House Committee to Consider Draft of Legislation Affecting Sports Betting and Online Gambling
The fate of sports betting in America — and the possibility of its becoming legal nationwide rather than just a few states (Nevada, and in a more limited way Delaware, Oregon and Montana) — is one of those ongoing legislative debates that never seems to gather a lot of momentum. That said, this week some news did come out of Capitol Hill that could theoretically become meaningful not just with regard to sports betting in the U.S., but online gambling as well.
On Thursday the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a "discussion draft" describing new legislation, The Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act or the GAME Act for short. The bill would repeal the existing federal prohibition on sports betting — i.e., the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, a.k.a. PASPA — as well as allow states to legalize online gambling.
Currently only Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have legalized online gambling.
A section-by-section summary of the GAME Act outlines how it would make "gaming activity" entirely a state matter, removing it from the aegis of federal law entirely and leaving oversight and consumer protection to the Federal Trade Commission.
Other sections rule out the use of credit cards as a payment method for any type of gambling, discuss enforcement procedures, require gaming addiction prevention and treatment programs and define "bet or wager" as "the risking of something of value, including virtual currency or virtual items, upon the outcome of a contest of others, a sporting event, or a game of skill or a game of chance, on the expectation that the person will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome."
The final sections clarify the GAME Act would not affect current state law or tribal-state compacts, and that it would repeal PASPA.
Rep. Frank Pallone, a Democrat from New Jersey, is the primary impetus behind the GAME Act. In a statement from Pallone yesterday, he notes that "despite the federal gaming laws in place today, Americans are betting up to $400 billion a year on sporting events alone."
"It's time to recognize that the laws are outdated, and the GAME Act will modernize them by increasing transparency, integrity, and consumer protections."
Reporting on the new legislation, ESPN shares optimism expressed by Geoff Freeman, CEO of the American Gaming Association who have long espoused the need for PASPA being repealed and new legislation related to sports betting.
"President [Donald] Trump will have sports betting legislation on his desk during his term," said Freeman.
Whether such optimism is warranted at present is difficult to know. For a thorough first impression of the GAME Act and its potential, check out Legal Sports Report's response to the question "New Congressional Bill Would End Sports Betting Ban, But What Are Its Odds Of Passing Soon?"