By: the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

WASHINGTON — Several members of the House Judiciary Committee suggested Thursday that they would support new federal regulation of sports gambling, though the specifics remained murky.

Four months after the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling paving the way for legal sports betting nationwide, Congress held its first hearing on the matter. Over the course of 90 minutes, members of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations pressed a group of witnesses about various potential legal safeguards, in the wake of the Court’s decision to overturn a decades-old federal law that limited most sports gambling to Nevada.

The day’s biggest question: Who should safeguard the games, while also looking out for athletes and bettors.

“I think the one thing that all would agree on is that for Congress to do nothing is the worst possible alternative,” said Rep. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., the subcommittee’s chairman.

Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia now offer some form of legalized sports gambling. A handful of other states have legalized but not yet implemented betting on pro and amateur sports, and more states are expected to take up bills this fall.

Sports entities have favored federal oversight, while gaming groups have generally preferred state regulation. The NFL was the only professional league represented at Thursday’s hearing, and Jocelyn Moore, a communication executive with the league, voiced support for federal oversight.

“We’re asking for core federal standards,” she said. “We’re not asking for sweeping federal legislation.”

Among the league’s requests: uniform standards for state regulatory bodies, a 21-year-old age minimum for bettors, a requirement that official league data be used by sports books, established protocol for books to communicate across state lines about abnormal betting patterns, and a limit on in-game prop bets — like whether a field goal will be made or missed — that could be easily manipulated.