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Congress preparing to act on US Sports betting reform

Sat, Oct 22, 8:57am by Senior Writer

American sports betting law is set to undergo a massive overhaul with a congressional committee working on legislation which will deal with the current prohibition on sports betting as well as evolving gambling venues such as daily fantasy sports.

The current federal laws are a patchwork of three statutes, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), the Federal Wire Act of 1961 and the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA), which essentially ban betting on sports in any states except Nevada.

A recent court case in New Jersey highlighted the inadequacy of laws such as PASPA in dealing with the rise in both online sports betting and daily fantasy sports, while Pennsylvania passed a resolution urging Congress 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.’

A report from the American Gaming Association estimates $149 billion is bet illegally on sports in the U.S, around 35 times the amount bet legally through Nevada’s regulated sportsbooks.

New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone Jr told ESPN that the laws were obsolete and needed to be updated as a matter of urgency,

“The laws need a wholesale review to see how they can actually work together and create a fairer playing field for all types of gambling, both online and offline, including sports betting and daily fantasy sports,” Pallone said.

“At the same time, we must ensure the laws are actually creating an environment of integrity and accountability, and include strong consumer protections. I plan to continue discussions with the key stakeholders and then will introduce comprehensive legislation to finally update these outdated laws.”

The challenge may be getting the major professional sports on board with any reform. The NBA has openly supported legalisation, with commissioner Adam Silver indicating as much in recent months, but the other major sports, NHL, MLB and NFL, aren’t as keen.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said after a recent owners meeting that the league remains ‘very much opposed to legalized gambling on sports’.

However, the genie appears to be firmly out of the bottle on this one with daily fantasy sports a massive growth industry.

It means the incoming president will have the sports betting issue firmly on their agenda, with the likelihood the legislation would be put forward in the next 12 months.

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