A National Football League official, an American Gaming Association official, and an official from the Sheldon Adelson-backed Coalition to Stop Online Gaming. Witnesses from all sides of the argument are set to discuss sports betting implications on Capitol Hill.
The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations has released the witness list for its Sept. 27 hearing titled “Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America.” The scheduled witnesses are:
- Jocelyn Moore, executive vice president of communications and public affairs at the NFL;
- Sarah Slane, senior vice president of public affairs at the American Gaming Association;
- Becky Harris, chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board;
- Jon Bruning, counselor at the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG); and
- John Warren Kindt, professor at the University of Illinois.
A spokesperson for Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who chairs the subcommittee, told Bloomberg Tax Sept. 24 that the chairman “looks forward to hearing from these witnesses who represent a wide variety of positions on sports betting.”
This is the first federal hearing on sports betting since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for states to allow bets on sports in its May ruling in Murphy v. NCAA,which repealed the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). That law had prohibited states from “authorizing” gambling related to professional and amateur sports leagues.
The hearing also follows week three of the NFL season, a time of fervent betting. In a Sept. 5 report, the American Gaming Association, in conjunction with the Nielsen Sports research company, estimated the NFL’s annual revenue could increase by $2.3 billion a year—a 13 percent revenue increase—due to widely available, legal sports betting.
Witness to Squabble?
Dustin Gouker, managing editor at Legal Sports Report—a sports betting-centric online news source—told Bloomberg Tax that other than likely arguing between the AGA’s Slane and Kindt and the CSIG’s Bruning, he doesn’t anticipate an argumentative atmosphere at the hearing.
Gouker said in an email that he’s “not sure how invested/knowledgeable any of the members of this subcommittee are on the subject. I am not expecting much at all from it.”
Adelson—chairman and majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands, the world’s largest casino operator—will be represented at the hearing. He has spent more than $200 million in the past few years championing Republican candidates and conservative causes.
“The CSIG is generally known to be bankrolled by Sheldon Adelson, who is just about the only sector of the gaming industry wholeheartedly opposed to online gaming,” Gouker said, adding that Adelson’s Las Vegas properties do offer online wagering.
Growing Federal Concerns
The hearing follows recent calls for federal intervention from Senate leadership.
On Aug. 29, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) proposed a “desperately needed” federal sports betting framework, a move that state tax policy experts say could hurt state sovereignty and tax revenue pursuits.
Schumer also published a memo that included three principles he deems necessary in a framework: protecting young people and those suffering from gambling addiction, protecting the integrity of the game, and protecting consumers and individuals placing bets.
During an Aug. 24 update on the Senate floor, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said progress is being made, and that he would release a legislative proposal “in the coming weeks.” There is currently a 0.25 percent federal excise tax on all betting handles.