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The Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee almost unanimously passed a bill to call on Congress to lift the federal ban on sports betting.
The committee overwhelmingly voted to report the resolution (HR619) favorably to the full house — by a vote of 23-1 — although it still has several steps before being adopted as the official position of the state legislature.
The resolution is opened as follows:
Urging the Congress of the United States to lift the Federal ban on sports betting and to allow states that authorize, license and regulate casino gaming, including the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to legalize sports betting through its licensed facilities.
The resolution, among other points, touches on the inefficacy of the ban:
WHEREAS, Even amid strong Federal laws banning sports betting in the United States, reports highlight that illegal sports betting is widespread and is considered the number one form of gambling among American residents;
The resolution comes as the American Gaming Association has pointed out that the vast majority of bets placed by Americans on the Super Bowl are done illegally.
The resolution, if ultimately passed in Pennsylvania, would hold no sway over anything that Congress does. But it would be an example of momentum behind the concept of repealing the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a law that effectively bans sports wagering in all but Nevada and a few other states.
The PA resolution would be more effective if it were to be mimicked in other states that wish to see PASPA taken off the books. As a single resolution from one state, the amount of impetus toward a repeal might be viewed as minimal, although not insignificant.
Right now, PASPA allows sports betting in Nevada and limited wagering in Montana, Delaware and Oregon. Several states have introduced legislation that would allow sports betting if PASPA were to be repealed.
PASPA is also under challenge in federal court. New Jersey, which passed a bill allowing sports betting is being challenge by the major North American sports leagues, will get a rehearing on its appeal next week.