Category Archives: Federal Policy

Bipartisan Federal Sports Betting Regulations Introduced

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing battles to legalize sports betting outside of Las Vegas. Since the recent Supreme Court decision effectively allows individual states to pass sports betting legislation, many have called for a federal response to provide uniform and consistent guidelines. Now, a new bill has been brought forth and it’s a bipartisan effort. Forbes explains: 

Days before he is scheduled to retire, Orrin Hatch has a parting gift for the Senate. Hatch and Sen. Chuck Schumer introduced bipartisan legislation on Wednesday that would create uniform federal standards for the legalized sports betting market. The bill, the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018, is being introduced less than eight months after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in May that struck down a 26-year federal ban on sports gambling.

“This bill is the first step toward ensuring that sports betting is done right in the states that choose to legalize it. Just as importantly, it provides protections for states that choose not to go down that path,” Hatch said in a statement.

The proposed legislation includes a mandate that would require sports wagering operators to use data provided or licensed by sports organizations to determine the outcome of sports wagers through 2024. Upon the completion of the transition period, the proposed bill allows operators to use alternative forms of data if they can prove that it is sufficiently similar to the data provided by the leagues.

Each state has 18 months to come into compliance with the legislation before the bill takes effect. Hatch, a Utah Republican, was an original author of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 1992 federal law that prohibited sports betting.

This bill has garnered the support of the NFL and others as its viewed as having the necessary regulatory guidelines and enforcement tools to help regulate the industry as best as it can. Forbes continues: 

“The bipartisan legislation that Senator Hatch and I have introduced, follows the principles laid out in the federal framework that I released in August and will serve as solid foundation upon which we build the appropriate guardrails around the burgeoning sports betting industry,” Schumer said in a statement.

In the months since the Court rendered its decision, the NFL has advocated for the imposition of robust federal guidelines that could mitigate some of the societal risks posed by sports gambling. On Wednesday, NFL Executive Vice President Jocelyn Moore applauded the senators for establishing positions in the bill that “closely aligned,” with the core standards she articulated in testimony before Congress. Specifically, Moore appeared pleased with guidelines that could provide law enforcement with tools to penalize unscrupulous actors closely tied to the dark underbelly of gambling.

Not everyone supports the bill and others see it as a vehicle for expanding the Wire Act to involve all interstate betting, not just sports betting. The changing political landscape will also complicate the issue. Forbes wraps up by reporting: 

There were also reports on Wednesday that the Department of Justice is prepared to reverse a 2011 opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel on the Federal Wire Act. When the department issues the opinion, the government could find that the act pertains to all forms of online gambling, not just sports betting, according to Online Poker Report. In an opinion seven years ago, the office wrote that the act only applied to the latter.

The bipartisan bill from Hatch and Schumer, a New York Democrat, seeks to update the Wire Act to allow certain interstate wagers. The draft also proposes the creation of a new mechanism that could allow the Justice Department to target unlicensed, illegal offshore sports betting websites.

The timing of a vote still remains in question. Besides Hatch’s retirement, a leadership change in the House of Representatives could complicate matters.

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Supreme Court Betting Case Lawsuit Against NFL and other Sports Leagues Shot Down by Court

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the New Jersey Monmouth Park lawsuit against the sports leagues in the wake of the Supreme Court legalizing sports betting. For years New Jersey attempted to legalize sports gambling, and for years, the courts shot down all their efforts. In the states most recent attempt however, the managed to get their case before the Supreme Court and they emerged victorious. Most simply moved forward with sports legalization efforts, but New Jersey’s Monmouth part saw an opportunity to sue the sports league. Their claim was that the various leagues had blocked years of sports betting revenue. Unfortunately for Monmouth Park, a court rejected their claim. ESPN reports:

Late Friday, United States District Judge Michael A. Shipp denied a claim filed in May by the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NJTHA) — a group associated with the Monmouth Park racetrack and casino — asking “for judgment on $3.4 million injunction bond plus interest and damages.”

The New Jersey-based group had filed the renewed claim against the NFL, NCAA, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball within weeks of the Supreme Court’s May 14 decision that opened the door for states to authorize sports betting nationwide.

“The Court … finds NJTHA was not wrongfully enjoined,” wrote Judge Shipp in a just-released nine-page ruling obtained by ESPN. “The Court, accordingly, finds good cause exists to deny NJTHA damages under the injunction bond.”

With the courtroom win, the NFL, NCAA, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball avoid a ruling that would have allowed other bookmakers to claw-back money allegedly lost during the time between when the five leagues sued to enforce the federal law banning single-game wagering outside of Nevada, and the date the Supreme Court declared the ban to be unconstitutional.

Monmouth Park and the NJTHA could potentially appeal Judge Shipp’s ruling in the coming weeks. The group had previously claimed “that the Leagues acted in bad faith by wrongfully blocking the NJTHA from operating a sports betting venue at Monmouth Park.” Neither current New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy nor former Governor Chris Christie were part of the case.

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Military Personnel to be Screened for Problem Gambling under new Trump Directive

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the concerns of gambling in the military. The Department of Defense actually operates gambling facilities where service personnel gamble on slot machines. A few years ago Sen. Elizabeth Warren pushed an amendment to study the issues of problem gambling saying, “If the military is going to operate gambling facilities that bring in tens of millions of dollars in revenue, it also needs to ensure there is adequate prevention, treatment, and financial counseling available for service members struggling with gambling addictions.” She explained that over 36,000 service members fit the definition of problem gamblers. Now the Trump Administration has passed an initiative to screen for problem gambling during service member’s medical examinations. An online source explains: 

Members of America’s armed forces will now have to undergo screening for gambling addiction thanks to a new provision contained within the *National Defence Authorisation Act* that was signed into law by *President Trump* this week.

Section 733 of the House Armed Services Committee Report 115-874 requires the Department of Defence (DoD) to incorporate medical screening questions specific to gambling disorder in the next annual periodic health assessment conducted by the Department as well as in the Health Related Behaviours Surveys of Active-Duty and reserve component service members.

NCPG executive director *Keith Whyte* said: “Previous DoD surveys have found active duty personnel are two to three times more likely to have gambling problems than civilians. Better detection of gambling problems improves overall health and reduces social costs. Undetected gambling addiction exacerbates substance use disorders, depression and suicidal behaviour.”

He added: “NCPG strongly believes military personnel need and deserve effective gambling addiction prevention, education, treatment, enforcement, research, responsible gaming and recovery services. With the provision requiring members of the Armed Forces to be screened for gambling addiction, championed by Senator Elizabeth Warren, we take a vital step to improving the lives of service members and their families.

 

 

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Asks Federal Government for Sports Betting Oversight while States Fight for Their Right to Regulate

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to legalize sport betting. The Supreme Court ruled that the federal law that prevented nationwide sports betting was unconstitutional. As a result, states are now able to legalize this form of gambling. Naturally, the sports leagues are very concerned given their position has always been to oppose legalized sports betting due to worry of the integrity of the game. Now that federal law has been overturned however, the leagues are getting involved in a variety of ways. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is asking Congress to establish uniform policies based on four core principles. Yahoo sports provides Goodell’s statement:

As it was for my predecessors, there is no greater priority for me as the Commissioner of the National Football League than protecting the integrity of our sport. Our fans, our players and our coaches deserve to know that we are doing everything possible to ensure no improper influences affect how the game is played on the field. This week’s ruling by the Supreme Court has no effect on that unwavering commitment.

We have spent considerable time planning for the potential of broadly legalized sports gambling and are prepared to address these changes in a thoughtful and comprehensive way, including substantial education and compliance trainings for our clubs, players, employees and partners. These efforts include supporting commonsense legislation that protects our players, coaches and fans and maintains public confidence in our games. We are asking Congress to enact uniform standards for states that choose to legalize sports betting that include, at a minimum, four core principles:

1. There must be substantial consumer protections;
2. Sports leagues can protect our content and intellectual property from those who attempt to steal or misuse it;
3. Fans will have access to official, reliable league data; and
4. Law enforcement will have the resources, monitoring and enforcement tools necessary to protect our fans and penalize bad actors here at home and abroad.

At the same time Goodell and the leagues are looking after their interests, the states are also positioning themselves to get a cut of this new wave of gambling. Unfortunately for the states, it appears federal legislation is already in the works. An online source explains: 

State gambling regulators are fighting back against the major sports leagues’ assertion that US sports betting would be better regulated by the federal government than by individual states. A statement on Tuesday issued on behalf of four state regulators in Nevada, Michigan, Massachusetts and Louisiana by the International Center for Gaming Regulation at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, concludes that “coordinated action among jurisdictions” — rather than federal regulation — will be the key to protecting sports integrity and battling the black market. Goodell called on Congress to “enact uniform standards” for states that opt to regulate. It doesn’t take a genius to work out the subtext: why lobby for your interests in dozens of states when you can save a lot of money by just lobbying Congress? US Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is known to have had talks with the NFL and is planning to introduce federal sports betting legislation which, when it surfaces, is likely to include the league’s “core principles.”

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Unsurprisingly, Casino Lobby Joins New Jersey in Attempt to Sway Supreme Court in favor of Legalized Sports Betting

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many attempts by New Jersey to legally allow sports betting in their state, despite federal law that makes it illegal. Every attempt made has resulted in the courts shutting down the illegal sports gambling. The case will finally be resolved one way or another later this year when the Supreme Court will examine the issue. The list of opponents of this expanded sports betting is long and includes all the major sports and collegiate organizations such as the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. Not surprisingly, the casino lobby is coming to the side of New Jersey and they have submitted a brief to the Supreme Court. The Washington Examiner reports: 

The American Gaming Association filed a brief on Tuesday supporting Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in his upcoming Supreme Court fight with top U.S. athletic leagues over sports betting. Christie’s team argues that federal law banning sports betting violates states protections under the 10th Amendment. More than two decades ago, New Jersey failed to take advantage of a window in federal law to run sports gambling, but then decided to do so on its own in 2011.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association challenged the New Jersey law, along with the NBA, NFL, NHL, and Major League Baseball. The Supreme Court has yet to set a date for oral arguments this term in the sports gambling case, which will be closely watched as its outcome could change sports gambling rules throughout the country.

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New Federal Sports Gambling Bill Emerges in Congressional Committee

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many attempts of New Jersey to legalize sports betting. The reason all of their attempts have failed is because federal law prevents states from allowing sports betting under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, the Wire Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act and most recently, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. A new federal bill, if passed, would remove federal bans on certain gambling and allow the states to regulate them as they please, thus effectively legalizing sports betting for New Jersey and others if they so choose. An online source breaks down the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act (GAME Act):

The US Congress may consider a gambling bill that would annul a *federal gambling ban*. This, on the other hand, would allow the country to make any form of gambling legal and regulate it. 

[I]f the GAME Act is enacted, it would annul the 1992 federal law and would allow every state to separately add sports betting and online gaming to the gambling operations that are legal there. As explained above, *customer protection rules*, as well as rules about *taxation and regulations* are also implemented in the proposed piece of legislation.

Stakeholders are also allowed to give their feedback for the GAME Act. As it has already became clear, the American Gaming Association backed the legal expansion of sports betting operations. Other organizations, such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) do not support the bill. 

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Sports Betting Once Again Pursued by New Jersey, This Time with Far Reaching Gambling Expansion Ramifications

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to expand sports gambling in area’s outside of Las Vegas, with New Jersey being the state at the forefront. Over many years they have tried several approaches to pass legislation to allow sports betting, but beyond just the opposition from the major sports leagues like the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL, existing federal law has kept the issue at bay. The last failed attempt was legislation that essentially said New Jersey would simply not enforce the federal law, but that effort was struck down by an federal court. Now, the Third Circuit court has granted a very rare opportunity for the New Jersey law to be reexamined. ESPN explains:

New Jersey has an “incredibly rare” opportunity Wednesday to defeat the nation’s most powerful sports leagues and win the right to offer legal, Las Vegas-style sports betting. An hour long rehearing is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET Wednesday at the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to determine whether New Jersey’s Sports Wagering Law, signed by

Governor Chris Christie in Oct. 2014, violates a 25-year-old federal law prohibiting state- sponsored sports betting. The NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball have sued the governor to prevent it from happening. The leagues have won every step of the way, including in August, when a three-judge panel at the 3rd Circuit ruled against New Jersey in a 2-1 majority decision. But legal authorities say the 3rd Circuit’s granting of a rehearing en banc (in front of all judges) is a sign that Wednesday may be New Jersey’s best shot of the entire saga. Since March 2010, the Third Circuit has granted a rehearing en banc just 19 times.

The impact of this particular case won’t simply impact New Jersey. Many states have interest in sports betting expansion. Additionally, there are potential Daily Fantasy Sport implications as well. ESPN continues:

Legal experts say the decision is extremely close. The outcome will have widespread ramifications in other states. Last week, Pennsylvania passed a resolution asking Congress to repeal PASPA, and several states have considered sports betting bills that would put them in position to offer sports betting should the federal statute be repealed. The ruling also could have an impact on the ongoing legal controversy surrounding daily fantasy sports. Several state attorneys general have stated that daily fantasy is a form of sports gambling. Some states are attempting to pass legislation that creates a licensing scheme for daily fantasy sports. The NBA, NHL and MLB all own equity in daily fantasy sports sites, and 28 NFL teams have advertising deals with daily fantasy companies. “Once daily fantasy sports are deemed to be a type of gambling, then I don’t know how you reconcile that with PASPA,” said Dan Etna, a co-chair of New York firm Herrick’s Sports Law Group, who has tracked the New Jersey case and daily fantasy sports.

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