Sports Betting Bill Introduced To Legalize Wagering Nationwide On Dec. 19

Sports Betting Bill Introduced To Legalize Wagering Nationwide On Dec. 19

On Wednesday, Dec. 19, Senators Orrin Hatch and Chuck Schumer introduced the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018 that would regulate US sports betting. The bipartisan bill is aimed at establishing safety measures to proctect consumers and preserve the integrity of sports.

There are currently eight states that have legal sports betting, not including legal DC sports betting, which passed on Dec. 18. NJ sports betting has made massive revenue, approaching $1 billion in bets. PA sports betting recently added two new sportsbooks in SugarHouse and Twins Casino. And WV sports betting just saw DraftKings Sportsbook enter the fray to offer online sports betting. Despite the success of state-run sportsbooks, the federal government’s reasoning for getting involved is to keep the integrity of sports.

What Is In Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018?

The bill stands to create standards on sports betting. This includes the disallowance of bets placed on amateur events, with the exception of the Olympics and college sports. The bill also sets an age limit, restricting anyone under the age of 21 to place a sports bet. Another sports wagering restriction would involve those involved with sports, including athletes, coaches, officials, and anoyone who may be a part of sports organizations.

Will There Be A Sports Betting Integrity Fee? 

The Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act would require that sports betting operators use data provided by sports leagues through 2024. They would then set requirements for data after that point. If this remains the case, it gives professional sports leagues significant leverage in obtaining an integrity fee, which would likely be paid by the sportsbooks. As of now, there is no state that requires sportsbooks to pay a fee to pro sports leagues.

It is still unclear if this bill would require sportsbooks to pay pro sports leagues, but the NFL is involved, pushing the term “integrity,” making it more likely the league will get paid to provide data to sportsbooks.

NFL Makes Sports Betting Integrity Claim

NFL executive vice president of communications and public affairs Jocelyn Moore spoke about keeping integrity in sports when it comes to sports betting. Moore claims that states and sports leagues cannot fully protect the integrity of sports contents without the help from federal guidance.

Moore also expresses the idea of not allowing states to make policty choices when it comes to protecting consumers and guarding against youth gambling. 

Sports leagues have been lobbying to add integrity fees to each state who has legalized sports betting.

DOJ May Offer New Opinion On The Wire Act

In September 2011, the Department of Justice went public with a formal legal opinion about the Wire Act’s reach, stating "interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a 'sporting event or contest' fall outside the reach of the Wire Act.” Now, the DOJ may revisit that opinion, which could have a negative impact for online lotteries and casinos, such as NJ online casinos, which have generated significant revenue for the state. There is no guarantee that the DOJ will release an opinion that negatively impacts what is already in place, and there may even be no opinion given at all. But there are rumors that the DOJ will release a statement regarding the Wire Act at some point around the Christmas holiday.

The Supreme Court has not ruled on the Wire Act, but struck down PASPA on May 14, 2018, which allowed states to legalize sports betting. Since that time, sports betting has been on a roll. We have recently seen sportsbooks expand in states such as Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Mississippi. NJ sports betting is booming, and by all projected revenue reports, all of these states will greatly benefit. DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook both made over $7 million in revenue for the month of November in New Jersey.

It will be interesting to see what impact, if any, the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018 has on sports betting.

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