Sports News

Federal bill would regulate U.S. sports betting

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The nascent U.S. legal sports betting market would be subject to federal oversight under a bill introduced in Congress on Wednesday, one that will surely face opposition from the casino industry and some states.

FILE PHOTO: Gamblers place bets on sports at Monmouth Park Sports Book by William Hill, shortly after the opening of the first day of legal betting on sports in Oceanport, New Jersey, U.S., June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch and Democratic Senator Charles Schumer introduced the bill, which aims to protect consumers and sports integrity and would require states to seek federal approval to run a sports betting program.

The legislation would create a national clearinghouse for wagering data and require that sportsbooks use only official game data from professional leagues - something that has already begun happening through a series of private deals.

For years, the leagues fought legalization, arguing that sports betting posed a danger to game integrity. That all changed when the U.S. Supreme Court in May left it up to states to decide whether to regulate the wagers.

Now, the new U.S. market is potentially worth many billions of dollars to sports leagues, casinos, sportsbook operators, tech firms, advertisers and others.

States like New Jersey, which has long sought to capitalize on sports betting by legalizing and taxing it, may be upset over any efforts at federal oversight.

It was, after all, a 1992 federal bill co-authored by Hatch that banned the activity in the first place, outside of Nevada, which was grandfathered into the law.

U.S. Representative Dina Titus, of Nevada, said the bill “would inject uncertainty into an established and regulated industry, weaken Nevada’s ability to promptly adapt to maintain its gold standard, and risk causing bettors and operators to leave the regulated market.”

The bill is not likely to be passed this year with only a few days left in the legislative season.

While Hatch is retiring from the Senate and acknowledged that the bill was a “placeholder,” Schumer will return next year and said he will push the bill forward for a vote “very soon.”

The National Football League, National Council on Problem Gambling, United States Tennis Association and NCAA praised the bill.

Sara Slane, senior vice president of public affairs for the American Gaming Association, a casino industry group, said the legislation is “an unprecedented and inappropriate expansion of federal involvement in the gaming industry, which is currently one of the most strictly regulated in the country.”

For some, it failed on other accounts. The Sports Fans Coalition said it would push for the inclusion of more robust consumer protections, according to Executive Director Brian Hess.

Reporting by Hilary Russ; Additional reporting by David Shepardson and Richard Cownan in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler