Skip to content

By: Matt Rybaltowski of Forbes

Addressing the 10,000 pound Elephant In The Room, Rep. James Sensenbrenner opened his remarks at a  Congressional hearing on sports betting by expressing concern that intense media coverage of Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation could diminish the gravity of Thursday's hearing.

Sensenbrenner, the chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, tackled the issue head on by asserting that the societal impact of sports gambling is just as critical to the nation as the matters discussed before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The hearing entitled,  Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America, marked the first time a Congressional subcommittee convened for a discussion on the topic since the Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on sports gambling in May. 

"This is going to be an issue that is going to be very important in terms of making a determination of how professional and amateur sports are played, and any regulation, if any, that Congress should decide to put on the huge amounts of money that are bet both in legal and, in some cases, illegal forums," Sensenbrenner said in his opening remarks.

A debate on whether regulation of sports gambling should be largely enforced by the federal government or left to individual states dominated the 90-minute hearing inside the Rayburn House Office Building. While four states -- Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia -- have legalized sports betting over the last three months, more than a dozen others could follow suit over the next two years. The committee heard from a panel of experts on the ramifications of the Court's decision, headlined by NFL Executive Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs Jocelyn Moore. 

Echoing a position taken by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell earlier this summer, Moore noted that sports gambling remains an interstate question requiring a response from the federal government. As such, Moore urged Congress to establish core standards that will ensure a legal, regulated sports betting framework with substantial safeguards for consumers. Without proper federal oversight, Moore warned against a potential regulatory "race to the bottom," by state legislatures, a concern also expressed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, a co-author of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. 

At the same time, a leading trade group for the gaming industry argued that the responsibility of regulating sports gambling should be handled mostly by states and tribal nations, not the federal government. Just as Congress has refrained from regulating lotteries and other games such as slot machines, it should take a similar Laissez-Faire approach to sports betting, according to Sara Slane, senior vice president of public affairs at the American Gaming Association. In addition, the AGA believes policies should be enacted to curb the influence of the illegal, black market estimated at billions of dollars per year.

Slane was pressed by Sensenbrenner on why a gambler should place a bet with a legal sports book when a surfeit of options are offered on the illegal market. The illegal books, Sensenbrenner noted, are unshackled from burdensome tax requirements and in some cases can offer more favorable odds than their legal counterparts. In response, Slane cited a recent AGA commissioned study from Nielsen Sports which found that 71 percent of respondents that placed bets with a bookkeeper would move their betting activity to a regulated market if they had access to a legal platform. Nielsen surveyed more than 1,000 adult bettors nationwide.

The committee also heard from John Bruning, managing partner of Bruning Law Group and former attorney general of Nebraska. Bruning urged Congress to restore the Federal Wire Act to dissuade unlicensed and illegal online gambling sites from capitalizing on the expansion of legalized gambling in the U.S. Bruning also suggested that changes should be made with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 to better enforce gambling activity among Americans on offshore internet websites.

Easy access to sports gambling via the internet poses a considerable risk to underage bettors, Bruning emphasized. Bruning referenced a situation in the U.K. where a 13-year old boy gained access to his father's credit card after watching advertisements from a gaming operator during a soccer match. The teenager subsequently lost more than $140,000 in a span of a few days, Bruning said.

In a written statement provided to the committee, Moore recommended that Congress require the use of official league data in settling the betting outcomes of contests. The use of such data protects consumers from being manipulated by unscrupulous actors through fictitious contests known as ghost games, Moore wrote. There is anecdotal evidence of the practice in lower-level soccer matches in Europe that receive scant attention from regulators. Bettors wagered thousands on a 2015 match between FC Slutsk and Shakhter Soligorsk, two teams in the Belarus Premier League, only to discover later that the contest never took place

The NFL is also concerned that unsophisticated bettors could be duped by fake in-game proposition bets during the course of a game. Nevada Gaming Control Board Chair Becky Harris countered that there are restrictions on certain exotic wagers that a casino can offer within the state. A sports book, for instance, cannot offer bets in Nevada on whether a kicker will place an errant field goal to the left or right of the goalpost on an attempt.

"I would argue that in a strictly regulated market there is not a specific bet type that is more susceptible to some kind of impropriety," Harris said.

Other leagues appear to be just as alarmed. The issue gained traction in January when NBA Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel Dan Spillane argued that leagues should have the right to prohibit risky bets such as which player will commit a game's first foul. Although obscure wagers may be available at minor operations outside the U.S., Wynn Las Vegas Executive Director Of Race And Sports Operations Johnny Avello said at the time that he hasn't offered that type of bet in nearly four decades as an oddsmaker.  

Maintaining integrity in sports is just one of many issues Congress may confront over the next several months in determining the role of government in regulating sports betting. For the most part, the panelists at Thursday's hearing believe that some intervention from the federal government is needed to address the issues, Sensenbrenner indicated. 

"This means we have some work to do," said Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican. "I'm looking forward to try to come up with something short-term and more permanent to deal with this issue. I'm afraid that if we don't there will be some people who will be hurt and will be hurt pretty badly."  

By: Ben Nuckols of the Herald-Whig

House Republicans strongly favor new federal regulations on sports gambling after the Supreme Court allowed states to open sports books.

At a hearing of a House Judiciary subcommittee, GOP members Thursday expressed concerns about advertisements and online gambling platforms targeting minors, as well as the potential for match-fixing.

"For Congress to do nothing is the worst possible alternative," said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican. "We have some work to do, and I'm looking forward to working with you to try to come up with something both short term and something more permanent to deal with this issue. I'm afraid if we don't, there are going to be people who get hurt and get hurt badly."

The hearing was the first Congress has held on the issue since the Supreme Court decision in June to strike down a law that limited sports gambling to four states, and full-service sports books only to Nevada. Since then, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia have legalized betting on pro and amateur sports, with more states considering adding sports books to their existing racetracks or casinos.

The prospect of federal action, however, is murky at best. No bill has been introduced that would enact the reforms discussed by Sensenbrenner and other GOP members, and the committee may have different priorities if Democrats take over the House in the midterm elections.

The hearing occurred at the same time the Senate Judiciary Committee was hearing testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, and Sensenbrenner acknowledged that most of Washington's attention was focused elsewhere.

A gambling-industry representative and a Nevada regulator told the committee that states were fully capable of regulating sports gambling on their own and said many of the fears about the ills of expanded sports gambling have not been realized.

The industry's position is that legalization is good for bettors and sports leagues because it will move sports betting from illegal offshore operators to licensed businesses that pay taxes and have consumer protections. Gambling proponents also argue that match-fixing and other nefarious activities are easier to prevent and snuff out in a regulated market.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican and the Judiciary Committee chairman, said he thought there was a federal role to play in regulating online gambling because it can't be contained within state borders.

"I do not believe gambling is a victimless activity," Goodlatte said. "I think that online gambling, in particular, can be more destructive to the families and communities of addictive gamblers than if a bricks-and-mortar casino were built next door."

Jon Bruning, a Republican former Nebraska attorney general, told the committee that youngsters in the United Kingdom, where legal sports betting is widespread, were being exploited by licensed online operators, citing studies that showed minors are placing bets and being bombarded by advertisements.

In Nevada, however, online sports gambling has not yet proved popular, said Becky Harris, the chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. She said protections are in place, including a requirement that bettors go to a casino in person and undergo a background check before placing bets online.

Jocelyn Moore, an NFL spokeswoman and lobbyist, used the word "integrity" 24 times in her seven-page written testimony. She urged Congress to limit legal gambling to those 21 and older, require operators to use official data from leagues and bar risky bets on in-game action that, she said, are particularly susceptible to match-fixing. The league also wants more aggressive enforcement against illegal bookies.

Meanwhile, the players' unions for the four major U.S. professional leagues and Major League Soccer asked Congress to include protections for players and their families in any federal regulation.

Washington, D.C.—Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner delivered the following remarks today at a hearing titled “Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America”:

Good morning, and I’d like to welcome you all to today’s hearing.

First of all, let me say that this topic that we’re going to be discussing today is probably just as important in terms of setting the future of American society as what’s going on before our Judiciary Committee counterparts on the other side of the Capitol. But obviously we don’t have the attention of the media since we have a mostly empty press table over there. However, this is going to be an issue that is going to be very important in terms of making a determination of how professional and amateur sports are played, and any regulation, if any, that Congress should decide to put on the huge amounts of money that are bet both in legal and, in some cases, illegal forums.

The Subcommittee will examine the state of sports gambling in America. This subject is extremely important and complex. Development in the past year mean it may soon affect the lives of millions of Americans.

Sports in America are tightly woven into our lives. They are our pastime, our passion. They bring us together; they divide us—hopefully in good sportsmanship; they serve as an escape; and yet they consume us.

I don’t watch much television, but when the Packers and the Brewers are on, the tv is on in my house. And I’m able to get away from what goes on in this business. And I’m particularly happy to see the Brewers on their way to the World Series. Come Milwaukee if you want to see some really great baseball played in the month of October.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court, in the case of Murphy v. NCAA, struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA.  PASPA was enacted in 1992, with the express purpose of protecting the integrity of professional and amateur American athletics. 

As written, PASPA effectively prohibited state-sanctioned sports betting nationwide, although contained a “grandfather clause” exempting states where wagering was already legal, including Nevada. Its nullification by the Supreme Court was preceded by many years of litigation, mostly involving the State of New Jersey and its efforts to establish a legal sports wagering regime.

In issuing the Murphy decision, Justice Alito wrote that the law unconstitutionally “commandeered” the main regulatory power of the states to enact their own gambling laws. Of course, the Tenth Amendment provides that all powers not expressly granted to the federal government are reserved to the states, or the people. 

Specifically, Justice Alito stated that “The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice,” and this is one we will be making here sometime in the near future, “but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not. PASPA ‘regulate[s] state governments’ regulation of their citizens.  The Constitution gives Congress no such power.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling means that, unlike during the 25-year existence of PASPA, states are now free to enact their own statutory and regulatory sports gambling schemes.

And that is why we are here.  This panel before us should show how this issue permeates every level of our government, and crosses from the gambling industry to professional athletics, to organizations dedicated to protecting citizens, and to state regulatory bodies.

Today, I expect to hear from our distinguished panel about the options available in the post-Murphy environment. One option, of course, would be for Congress to re-enact a federal ban on sports gambling.  Some have suggested that doing so would be as simple as prohibiting corporations – not states – from engaging in sports gambling activities. And it would curb any use of legalized, commercialized sports wagering to prey on vulnerable citizens.

Another possibility would be for Congress to defer to the states, and allow them to legalize and regulate the sports gaming business. This option is attractive to many who want the free market to work its will, since many current state laws and regulations already address issues as age restrictions, record keeping requirements and licensing and suitability determinations.

And a third option would be for Congress to adopt uniform, minimum federal standards, which would guide the imposition of sports wagering across the nation, in states that desire to legalize the practice.

Now let me express a personal view. With the huge amount of money that is involved in sports gambling, both above board and below board, the temptation is there to throw games—whether it’s done by officials, whether it is done by players, or whether it’s done by the actual teams. The first commissioner was appointed to oversee baseball following the Black Sox scandal. Recently, there was an NBA referee that ended up being accused, and I believe being convicted, of helping throw a game. And what I can say also being a Green Bay Packer fan is: after any controversial call—like the extremely bad calls against Clay Matthews for roughing the passer, in my opinion—the question will arise is whether the call was made by a referee who was calling them as he saw them or by a referee who was trying to influence the outcome of the game.

Unless something is done, in my opinion, to protect honest and legitimate betters from those who would like to tilt the games one way or the other illegally, unethically, and against the sports rules, we are going to be in for a huge amount of trouble in the future.

As I said at the outset, this is a complex issue, involving a variety of other issues – and statutes, outside of PASPA. There may need to be updates to other federal statutes to reflect this new reality. As a husband, father, grandfather, and sports fan, I am committed to two things: protecting our children and the games we love. Any solution crafted by Congress must address those two principles.

I thank our distinguished panel of witnesses, and look forward to your testimony.

By: Jon Sofen of Cards Chat

A House Judiciary subcommittee heard testimony on Thursday from advocates and opponents of the federal government regulating sports betting. The hearing, led by Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), addressed issues related to the Supreme Court’s May ruling to strike down a 1992 federal law that banned sports wagering in most states.

Adelson Attorney Expresses Concerns

Anti-online poker casino mogul Sheldon Adelson sent his lawyer Jon Bruning to the hearing. But his testimony didn’t specifically address poker.

Bruning did, however, question the safety of nationwide sports gambling. He said that a state-regulated industry “creates 50 chances for student-athletes to make mistakes.”

His concerns are shared by some politicians. Bruning claims “the internet doesn’t have borders.” And, thus, fears it will be impossible for individual states to monitor online gambling action.

The former Nebraska attorney general didn’t propose a complete ban on internet gambling. He instead focused on addressing the risks associated with widespread online gambling. One of those risks, he suggests, is the potential for illegal online gambling sites “taking advantage of the spread of legalized sports betting across the nation.”

NGCB Chair’s Stance

Becky Harris, chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, disagrees with Adelson’s hired speaker.

“Integrity in gaming is absolutely critical,” Harris has said. “Sports betting scandals are more likely to occur in illegal markets where there is no regulatory responsibility, where monitoring betting patterns is of no concern, and where line movements may not matter.”

Nevada was previously the only state offering legal sports wagers. Harris uses her state as an example for why other states should legalize sports betting. She has suggested refusing to do so encourages illegal activity.

Sara Slane, senior vp of public affairs for the American Gaming Association (AGA), shares Harris’ sentiments.

“AGA does not believe an additional layer of federal regulatory oversight is needed at this time,” she told the committee. “(The federal government) should leave sports betting oversight to the states and the tribes that are closest to the market.”

Slane favors individual states legalizing sports betting. She argues that doing so would minimize black market wagering.

Sports bettors wager an estimated $100 billion annually. It’s impossible to track the amount wagered through the black market, as illegal bookmakers and offshore sites don’t report this income to the IRS.

Sleight of Hand

Much like the anti-online poker RAWA hearings that never materialized, don’t expect major changes to the sports gambling landscape following Thursday’s testimony. The purpose of the hearing was to determine if federal intervention is warranted, not to pass legislation.

After just 90 minutes, the hearing adjourned. Chairman Sensenbrenner ended the hearing without addressing the next step: a future hearing. The committee didn’t set a date.

“I think the one thing you all agree on is that for Congress to do nothing is the worst possible alternative,” the chairman said. “This means we have some work to do. I’m looking forward to working with you to come up with something short-term and something more permanent.”

By: Phil Kabler of Charleston Gazette-Mail

Launches of sports betting at Wheeling Island and Mardi Gras casinos, tentatively expected by the end of this month, have been delayed, Lottery spokesman Randy Burnside said Thursday.

In a statement Thursday, he said the parent company of both casinos, Delaware North, had advised the Lottery it would be delaying the launch of sportsbooks at its Wheeling and Nitro locations, but did not specify reasons for the delay.

“Delaware North has pushed back their timeline for opening the sportsbooks at both Wheeling and Mardi Gras,” Burnside said. “The Lottery is waiting to hear back from them to schedule testing at some point in October.”

Kim Florence, president of Wheeling Island, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Gaming industry officials have expressed concern that the Justice administration might attempt to amend legislative rules governing sports betting — which have to be filed with the secretary of state before Oct. 7 — to mandate that the state’s casinos share sports betting profits with professional sports leagues.

That’s despite legislators soundly rejecting previous attempts by the Justice administration to mandate paying “integrity fees” to the leagues or require that the casinos enter into contracts with those leagues.

Industry concerns were heightened by the abrupt resignation of Lottery Director Alan Larrick and the ongoing suspension of Lottery general counsel Danielle Boyd, who had both championed sports betting rules that do not include compensation to the sports leagues.

Earlier this month, West Virginia Gaming and Racing Association President John Cavacini said the sports leagues are trying to use the rule-making process to force policies that the Legislature rejected in the regular session.

“It would be very hard for the tracks to go back and start all over with a new set of rules and regulations,” he said, adding, “We object to them bringing the same old stuff they lost on in January, February and March, and trying to get them through the backdoor through amending rules and regulations.”

Meanwhile Thursday in Congress, a House subcommittee hosted the first public hearing on possible federal legislation to regulate sports betting at the state and tribal level.

Those testifying included Jocelyn Moore, executive vice president of the National Football League, who said that without federal oversight, “We are witnessing a regulatory race to the bottom.”

She said the NFL is asking Congress to consider federal regulations of sports betting, including requiring operators to contract with the league for official game data, to restrict or ban “risky” in-game wagers on individual performances that she said are more susceptible to fixing, and to prevent the use of intellectual property, including league and team logos, without consent.

“Our product is widely available for unofficial data providers to abuse,” she said.

In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice has pushed for concessions in the state’s new sports betting law to compensate professional sports leagues, first proposing paying a portion of state profits to the leagues through an “integrity fee” and more recently proposing that the state’s casinos be required to contract with the leagues for game data.

During Thursday’s hearing, Sara Slane, senior vice president of the American Gaming Association, and Becky Harris, chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, argued that paying fees to sports leagues would make legal sports betting uncompetitive with existing illegal and offshore markets, and said legal sports betting provides transparency to help assure the integrity of the games.

Both noted that sports betting has a low profit margin, and that paying taxes or fees to professional sports leagues could make legal sports betting uncompetitive with illegal, black market betting using bookies or offshore Internet sites.

Part of developing successful legal sportsbooks, they said, requires drawing bettors away from the illegal operators, who don’t require valid identification, who often take bets on credit, who don’t report big wins to the Internal Revenue Service, and who frequently can offer better odds.

“They don’t care about regulations. They don’t care about consumers, and they don’t pay taxes,” Slane said.

She said polls show 70 percent of sports bettors would prefer to move from illegal to legal sportsbook operations.

Slane said legal sports betting promotes the integrity of sports events, since the legal operators have the ability to detect and report to authorities any unusual betting patterns.

“Right now, we have no idea if any illegal activity is occurring because there is no transparency in the black market,” she said.

Harris noted that the Nevada Gaming Control Board has detected and reported cases of betting improprieties in the past.

“Integrity in gaming is absolutely critical,” she said. “Sports betting scandals are more likely to occur in illegal markets where there is no regulatory responsibility, where monitoring betting patterns is of no concern, and where line movements may not matter.”

The subcommittee also heard from anti-gambling advocates, including Les Bernal, with Stop Predatory Gambling, who said state-sanctioned gambling is a “con game” that deprives Americans of $118 billion of income each year.

“Adding sports betting to the mix is going to make these gambling losses more severe,” he said.

The hearing was the first since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May overturning a federal law banning sports betting in most of the country.

However, closing comments by the subcommittee chairman, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, D-Wisconsin, suggested it would not be the last.

“The one thing I think we all agree on is for Congress to do nothing is the worst possible alternative,” he said.

By: Steven Stradbrooke of Calvin Ayre

Thursday’s sports betting hearing in the US congress was not unlike The Lord of the Rings, in that the forces of darkness significantly outnumbered the wagering heroes.

Thursday saw the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations tackle the issue of what role the federal government should – or shouldn’t – have in overseeing sports betting activity in the wake of the Supreme Court striking down the federal betting ban.

Subcommittee chair Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) opened the proceedings by noting the lack of any real media presence, given the hearing was taking place at the same time as the Senate’s far more consequential hearing into whether a Supreme Court nominee was a rat-bastard frat-boy rapist.

Sensenbrenner immediately copped to his impartiality on the subject of betting, saying that the “temptation is there to throw games” and unless something – exactly what went unspecified – is done, Sensenbrenner foresaw “a huge amount of trouble in the future” as legal betting spread across the land.

Next up was Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VI), one of the architects of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), who rejected the view that gambling was a “victimless activity” and claimed that online gambling was “more destructive” to families than if a brick-and-mortar casino opened on the other side of their white picket fence.

Goodlatte claimed to be a supporter of state’s rights, but also claimed that state gambling regulations were impossible to enforce in this modern age of newfangled gizmos. Speaking of, Goodlatte rubbished the concept of geo-fencing, saying that the best its proponents could say was that the technology “allegedly” works.

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) concluded the committee members’ opening remarks by saying that the feds have a responsibility to ensure that sports are “free of fraud” and that the games are “on the up and up.”

WITNESS TESTIMONY
The first of the five invited guests to speak was Jocelyn Moore, the National Football League’s VP of communications and public affairs, who warned of a state-level “regulatory race to the bottom” that practically begged for federal intervention, conveniently ignoring the fact that the NFL felt no particular urge to oversee the legal wagering going on in Nevada over these many decades.

Moore recited the NFL’s longstanding demands, including the mandatory use of league-supplied data for betting purposes, the ability to veto bookmakers offering “risky” in-play betting markets and protection of the league’s intellectual property.

Next up was the reliably hyperbolic Les Bernal, director of Stop Predatory Gambling, who has made it his life’s mission to get state governments out of the gambling business. We’ll spare you the bulk of Bernal’s testimony, but can’t resist repeating his lines that “states are laboratories of fraud, exploitation and budgetary shell-games” and that “no illegal gambling operator is putting liens on people’s houses.” (On that last point, touché.)

Legal betting’s first backer was Sara Slane, the American Gaming Association’s senior VP of public affairs, who argued that state and tribal gaming regulators were already well equipped to adapt to include sports betting in their areas of oversight.

Slane noted that the feds have no input into oversight of slots, table games and other gambling products, and thus there was “no need to overcomplicate or interfere with system that is already working.”

Slane added that there was also no need for the feds to legally mandate official sports data deals between leagues and operators. If there are any data deals, they should be done between the leagues and individual operators.

Jon Bruning, a former Attorney General (Nebraska) and now a counselor at the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling(CSIG), steered the ship back on its crazy course by claiming that the feds have “effectively abandoned” enforcement of UIGEA and demanding that the Wire Act be “restored” to its pre-2011 DOJ opinion era of zero tolerance for onine gambling.

Given that CSIG is funded by Las Vegas Sands’ boss Sheldon Adelson, it was appropriate that Bruning utilized the same ‘I have a smartphone’ prop comedy so often used by Sands’ Andy Abboud at previous hearings to illustrate, er, something about online gambling being “uniquely susceptible” to criminality, public corruption and terrorism.

The witness testimony concluded with Becky Harris, chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, who noted that Nevada has been dealing with legal wagering for decades without any problems. Harris also pointed out that onerous federal regulations would only serve to drive punters to the more attractive offerings of internationally licensed online operators.

Q&A
When it came time for interaction twixt legislators and witnesses, Sensenbrenner turned Harris’ regulation comments on Slane, wondering why any bettor wouldn’t opt to wager with international sites that don’t alert the IRS regarding a punter’s tax obligations.

Slane claimed that 70% of bettors currently wagering with international operators wanted to move to US-licensed books, but they wouldn’t shift if the feds “hamstrung” US books with heavy taxes and overly restrictive regulations.

Addressing Bernal, Nadler claimed that “sociopathology” had increased wherever off-track betting was permitted, and Bernal claimed that all that was necessary was to “take the government out of” the equation, end all gambling marketing and the urge to gamble will somehow “dissipate.”

Slane rebutted this exchange, saying eliminating regulatory oversight “does not make a whole lot of sense to me” and that legal operators can work with customers to reduce problem gambling. Bruning played his one-note instrument again, saying only land-based operators can properly vet their customers, while online was “a whole different thing.”

[At this point, we pause to note the blonde woman sitting directly behind Bruning, who perpetually nodded and smiled every time Bruning spoke, much like a devout parishioner during a particularly stirring evangelical preacher’s sermon. One half expected her to jump to her feet and bellow ‘can I get an amen’ but sadly it didn’t happen.]

Rep. Goodlatte didn’t so much ask questions as continue his opening statement, saying he wanted to “modernize” the Wire Act and properly enforce UIGEA. Bruning used this moment to point out that New Jersey regulators had the nerve to issue a license to PokerStars, who he claimed were “still on the lam” from their 2011 federal indictments, despite the original owners having sold out in 2014.

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) wanted to know whether all gambling operators – online or land-based – could be restricted to accepting only debit cards, not credit cards, in order to protect citizens from going into debt. Bernal claimed “getting you to chase your losses” was actually all gambling operators’ “business model,” which we took as a ‘no’ response.

[At this point, the livestream began flashing intermittently, effectively rendering the testimony indecipherable, which we assumed was God answering the blonde woman’s prayers by blocking anyone hearing any favorable gambling references.]

When the signal resumed, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) expressed concern that legal wagering would pose a threat to the safety of athletes, referees and their families from bettors irate over a dropped pass or ill-timed penalty.

The NFL’s Moore somehow steered her response into another call for preserving game integrity, without acknowledging the fact that BETTING IS ALREADY TAKING PLACE and there have yet to be hordes of angry Manson Families besieging players’ homes.

Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) wondered whether college athletes could be more susceptible to taking money in a legal betting world. Slane noted that the NCAA doesn’t pay its athletes, and appeared to suggest that colleges monitor athletes’ financial transactions to look for any activity that might indicate something untoward.

BIG FINISH
Sensenbrenner brought the festivities to a close by noting that the hearing was primarily informational, but claimed that everyone was in agreement that Congressional inaction was the “worst possible” reaction following the Supreme Court ruling, and that Congress should probably enact both “short-term and more permanent” solutions.

It remains to be seen whether there’s sufficient appetite outside the subcommittee’s narrow confines for Congress to proceed with actively regulating sports betting. Certainly, few impartial observers expect any concrete action in the dwindling days of the current legislative session, which means I wasted my time watching this fiasco, and you wasted your time reading this recap. Sorry.

By: CBS News

House Republicans say they strongly favor new federal regulations on sports gambling after the Supreme Court allowed states to open sports books.

At a hearing of a House Judiciary subcommittee, GOP members Thursday said they were concerned advertisements and online gambling platforms could target minors, and said they feared the potential for match-fixing.

"For Congress to do nothing is the worst possible alternative," said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican. Without any action to regulate sports gambling, he said, "there are going to be people who get hurt and get hurt badly."

The hearing was the first Congress has held on the issue since the Supreme Court in June struck down a law that limited sports gambling to four states, and full-service sports books only to Nevada. Since then, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia have legalized betting on pro and amateur sports, with more states considering adding sports books to their existing racetracks or casinos.

The prospect of federal action is murky at best. No bill has been introduced to enact the reforms discussed by Sensenbrenner and other GOP members, and the committee may have different priorities if Democrats take over the House in the midterm elections.

A gambling-industry representative and a Nevada regulator told the committee that states were fully capable of regulating sports gambling on their own and said many of the fears about the ills of expanded sports gambling have not been realized.

The industry argues that legalization will move sports betting from illegal offshore operators to licensed businesses that pay taxes and have consumer protections. Gambling proponents also argue that match-fixing and other nefarious activities are easier to prevent and snuff out in a regulated market.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican and the Judiciary Committee chairman, said he thought there was a federal role to play in regulating online gambling because it can't be contained within state borders.

"I do not believe gambling is a victimless activity," Goodlatte said. "I think that online gambling, in particular, can be more destructive to the families and communities of addictive gamblers than if a bricks-and-mortar casino were built next door."

Jon Bruning, a Republican former Nebraska attorney general, told the committee that young people in the United Kingdom, where legal sports betting is widespread, were being exploited by licensed online operators, citing studies that showed minors are placing bets and being bombarded by advertisements.

In Nevada online sports gambling has not yet proved popular, said Becky Harris, the chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. She said protections are in place, including a requirement that bettors go to a casino in person and undergo a background check before placing bets online.

Jocelyn Moore, an NFL spokeswoman and lobbyist, used the word "integrity" 24 times in her seven-page written testimony. She urged Congress to limit legal gambling to those 21 and older, require operators to use official data from leagues and bar risky bets on in-game action that, she said, are particularly susceptible to match-fixing. The league also wants more aggressive enforcement against illegal bookies.

Unions for the four major U.S. professional leagues and Major League Soccer asked Congress to include protections for players and their families in any federal regulation.

Update on the latest business

September 27, 2018

By: KOIN6

NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks are moving broadly higher in midday trading on Wall Street as several big technology companies including Apple post solid gains. Health care companies are also doing well.

Bed Bath & Beyond plunged after reporting earnings that fell far short of analysts' estimates and slashing its outlook for the year. Packaged food company Conagra fell after reporting weak results of its own.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.07 percent.

MORTGAGE RATES

US mortgage rates up; 30-year at 7-year high 4.72 percent

WASHINGTON (AP) - Long-term U.S. mortgage rates are up for the fifth straight week, with the key 30-year rate reaching its highest level in more than seven years.

Costs for would-be homebuyers continue to climb. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages jumped to 4.72 percent from 4.65 percent last week. The average benchmark rate has risen from 3.83 percent a year ago.

The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans increased to 4.16 percent this week from 4.11 percent last week.

The Federal Reserve signaled its confidence in the economy on Wednesday by raising a key interest rate for a third time this year, forecasting another rate hike before year's end.

PENDING HOME SALES

US pending home sales fell in August

WASHINGTON (AP) - Pending home sales slipped in August as fewer Americans signed contracts to purchase a house, the fourth decline in the past five months.

The National Association of Realtors says that its pending home sales index fell 1.8 percent last month to 104.2. This measure of contract signings has tumbled 2.3 percent in the past year, with the sharpest annual decline of 11.2 percent in the West where homes generally cost more.

The recent setbacks suggest that the combination of rising prices, higher mortgage rates and a limited number of sales listings are hurting affordability.

In August contract signings slipped on a monthly basis in the four major geographic regions: Northeast, Midwest, South and West.

Pending sales are a barometer of home purchases that are completed a month or two later.

DURABLE GOODS

Orders for US durable goods jumped 4.5 percent last month

WASHINGTON (AP) - Orders for long-lasting U.S. factory goods rose at a healthy pace last month, though the increase was mostly driven by a surge in aircraft demand.

The Commerce Department says orders increased 4.5 percent in August, the most in six months. Excluding aircraft, cars, and other transportation equipment, however, orders increased just 0.1 percent.

U.S. manufacturing is expanding at a solid pace, with orders up 9.2 percent year-to-date. Consumers are confident and spending more, and businesses have stepped up investment in machinery and equipment. Still, President Trump's trade battles with China, Europe, and Canada pose a risk in the coming months.

A category of orders that is a proxy for business investment fell 0.5 percent last month, but that follows two strong months and those orders are up 7.4 percent year-to-date.

BED BATH & BEYOND-STOCK

Bed Bath & Beyond nosedives after cutting forecasts

NEW YORK (AP) - Bed Bath & Beyond's stock plunged to its lowest price in 18 years after the home goods store chain posted weak results in the second quarter and cut its forecasts for the rest of the year.

The company's profit fell by almost 50 percent compared to a year ago. Its stock sank 21.5 percent to $14.76 in very heavy trading. It's down about 33 percent in 2018.

Bed Bath & Beyond, which traded above $75 in early 2015, fell to its lowest level since early 2000.

KeyBanc analyst Bradley Thomas said competition for Bed Bath & Beyond from both online and physical retailers is getting worse. He said that competition, along with continued spending on its website and mobile business, will continue to hurt the company's profits.

AETNA-BUSINESS SALE

Aetna sells Medicare business as it eyes close of CVS deal

UNDATED (AP) - Aetna is selling its Medicare prescription drug business, potentially clearing the way for CVS Health to complete its $69 billion takeover of the insurer.

CVS announced plans to buy Aetna late last year. The deal is expected to give the drugstore chain a bigger role in health care, with the companies combining to manage care through CVS stores, clinics and prescription drugs.

Industry experts say regulators may have been concerned about a Medicare business overlap between the companies. But Leerink analyst David Larsen says he is more confident the deal will be approved due to the sale that Aetna announced Thursday.

Aetna is not disclosing terms of its deal with fellow insurer WellCare.

Aetna Inc. and CVS Health Corp. expect their combination to close before the end of this year.

RITE AID-BOARD SHAKE-UP

A board reshuffle at Rite aid after 2 failed merger attempts

UNDATED (AP) - After two failed buyouts, Rite Aid is shuffling its board of directors and dividing power at the top of the drugstore chain.

Rite Aid said Thursday that three new, independent directors will be nominated to its board and that CEO John Standley will no longer hold the title of chairman. That goes to current board member Bruce Bodaken.

Shareholders will vote next month on whether to approve new board nominees Robert Knowling Jr., Louis Miramontes and Arun Nayar.

Bodaken said in a prepared statement that a push for a board reorganization was accelerated after hearing from shareholders following the collapse last month of an attempted buyout by Albertsons. Rival Walgreens also failed in a separate attempt to acquire Rite Aid Corp., which is based in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.

HEALTH OVERHAUL

Trump health chief: Premiums to drop for popular ACA plan

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. health secretary Alex Azar says premiums for a popular type of health plan under the Affordable Care Act will edge downward next year.

Speaking in Nashville on Thursday, Azar said premiums for a popular type of "silver" plan will drop by 2 percent in the 39 states served by the federal HealthCare.gov website. The number of marketplace insurers will grow for the first time since 2015.

Azar's comments track with a broader independent analysis earlier this month.

The analysis by the consulting firm Avalere Health and The Associated Press found that average premiums across all plans under the Obama health law will rise 3.3 percent.

The Trump administration is taking credit for market stability, but experts say premiums would be even lower but for administration attempts to undermine "Obamacare."

SPORTS GAMBLING

Republicans favor new federal regulation on sports gambling

WASHINGTON (AP) - House Republicans say they strongly favor new federal regulations on sports gambling after the Supreme Court allowed states to open sports books.

Thursday's hearing of a House Judiciary subcommittee was the first Congress has held on the issue since the Supreme Court decision in June to strike down a law that limited sports gambling to four states. Since then, sports books have opened in Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia, with more states considering legalization.

Republicans expressed concerns about advertisements and online gambling platforms targeting minors, as well as the potential for match-fixing.

GOP Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin says "for Congress to do nothing is the worst possible alternative" and that with no federal action, "there are going to be people who get hurt and get hurt badly."

WTO-TRADE FORECAST

WTO cuts trade growth forecast to 3.9 percent for 2018

GENEVA (AP) - The World Trade Organization has lowered its global trade growth forecast for this year by one-half percentage point to a still-robust 3.9 percent, saying increased trade tensions between large economies and heightened uncertainty contributed to the downgrade.

For next year, the Geneva-based trade body predicts a further slowing of growth in volume terms, to 3.7 percent.

WTO Director General Roberto Azevedo said Thursday: "While trade growth remains strong, this downgrade reflects the heightened tensions that we are seeing between major trading partners."

The WTO cited new trade measures targeting exports from "large economies," a clear allusion to U.S. tensions with some key trading partners.

CHINA-US-INTERFERENCE

China urges US to stop slander after Trump's meddling claim

BEIJING (AP) - Beijing has urged the United States to stop slandering China after President Donald Trump accused the Asian giant of trying to interfere in the upcoming American congressional elections.

Geng Shuang, a foreign ministry spokesman, said Thursday that the Chinese government does not interfere in other countries' internal affairs.

Trump said China was interfering in the elections because it opposes his tough trade policies. The White House provided scant evidence of anything akin to the level of Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Geng said Beijing "urges the U.S. to stop making unwarranted accusations and slanders against China and stop the words and deeds that harm bilateral ties and the fundamental interest of the two peoples."

Trump later said there was "plenty" of evidence but didn't provide details.

EUROPE-FACEBOOK

Senior EU lawmaker urges cyber, data audit of Facebook

BRUSSELS (AP) - A senior European Union lawmaker says Facebook should be audited by Europe's cyber security agency and data protection authority.

The chairman of the EU Parliament's civil liberties and justice committee, Claude Moraes, said Thursday that the audits "need to be done."

The parliament summoned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in May to testify about allegations that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used the data of millions of Facebook users to target voters during political campaigns.

The audit demands a part of a resolution that Moraes has drafted in response to the scandal. The committee aims to pass the resolution by Oct. 10 and put it to the full assembly in late October.

GREECE-ECONOMY

After 3 years, Greece ends limits on bank cash withdrawals

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Greek authorities say they will soon lift restrictions on domestic cash withdrawals imposed more than three years ago to prevent a bank run by depositors at the height of the country's debt crisis.

The finance ministry said Thursday that from Oct. 1 depositors will face no limits on withdrawals from bank accounts in Greece.

Greeks abroad will be able to withdraw up to 5,000 euros ($5,800) a month. Furthermore, the limit on carrying cash abroad will be increased from 3,000 euros to 10,000.

The restrictions were imposed in June 2015, to prevent banks from collapse as depositors tried to empty their accounts after talks between the government and bailout creditors appeared on the verge of collapse.

The moves come a month after the country formally ended its latest bailout program.

CRAB MEAT-FALSE LABELS

Seafood firm owner pleads guilty to falsely labeling crab

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) - The owner of a Virginia seafood company has pleaded guilty to conspiring to falsely label foreign crabmeat as fresh Chesapeake blue crab.

News outlets report 74-year-old James Casey of Poquoson, who owns Casey's Seafood in Newport News, entered the plea Wednesday in federal court. He faces up to five years in prison at sentencing Jan. 9.

Prosecutors say the company mixed discount "distressed" crabmeat from Indonesia, Brazil and elsewhere with Chesapeake blue crab, labeling it a "Product of the USA." Some of the crabmeat sold as Chesapeake blue crab contained only foreign meat.

Court documents state Casey's Seafood sold about 360,000 pounds of falsely labeled crabmeat from 2012 to 2015, worth $4.3 million at wholesale prices in Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Florida.

THE OKLAHOMAN-SOLD

The Oklahoman has been sold to GateHouse Media

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoman is being sold to GateHouse Media.

Publisher Chris Reen announced the sale to staff Thursday. Terms have not been disclosed. The sale is expected to close Monday.

Reen says some layoffs would happen Thursday to help stabilize financial operations for Oklahoma City's only daily newspaper. Reen says he will be leaving his position as publisher.

The Anschutz Corp., owned by Denver businessman Philip Anschutz, bought The Oklahoman in 2011.

GateHouse CEO Kirk Davis says he is enthusiastic about the purchase and that Gatehouse also owns Oklahoma City business publication The Journal Record.

New York-based GateHouse is one of the largest publishing companies in the U.S. with 145 newspapers, including The Austin American-Statesman and The Florida Times-Union.

By: Devin O'Connor of Casino.org

Sports betting was the topic of discussion at today’s hearing in the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, and gaming industry experts testified that an overly regulated market will only allow underground and offshore illegal sportsbooks to thrive.

Five witnesses provided their respective expertise, and opinions, to the House subcommittee.

Critics to the liberalization of sports betting following the Supreme Court’s May decision to strike down the federal ban issued threats on the dangers of expanded gambling and mobile betting. NFL spokeswoman Jocelyn Moore expressed concerns that widespread legal sports gambling jeopardizes the integrity of sports.

“AGA does not believe an additional layer of federal regulatory oversight is needed,” Slane declared. “Just as Congress has refrained from regulating lotteries, slot machines, table games, and other gambling products, it should leave sports betting oversight to the states and tribes that are closest to the market.”

Feds Step Aside

The hearing was a result of Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Chuck Schumer (D-New York) saying a federal framework should be created to form a unified regulatory environment. Schumer believes it’s imperative for “the federal government to take a leadership role and provide the necessary guidance to prevent uncertainty and confusion for the leagues, state governments, and fans alike.”

Harris said protecting the integrity of sports is of utmost concern, and that’s why regulated books are in everyone’s best interest.

"“Sports betting scandals are more likely to occur in illegal markets where there is no regulatory responsibility, where monitoring betting patterns is of no concern, and were line movements may not matter,” Nevada’s chief gaming regulator testified"

Harris added that states would be wise to consider Nevada’s sports betting regulations, which can “help guide other jurisdictions through this historical time.” She concluded that state gambling regulators are more than equipped to oversee sports betting without additional federal governance.

Bettors Want Better Odds

Subcommittee Chair Jim Sensenbrenner (D-Wisconsin) asked the panel, “If I were running around with a fistful of money that I wanted to bet, where would I go when the illegal sportsbook is offering all of these other goodies that a legal sportsbook cannot?”

Slane responded, “You hit the nail on the head. Sports betting is a low margin business, so in order for us to compete with the illegal market there has to be the policies in place that allow us to offer competitive odds and drive traffic to our legal sites.”

"Slane added that 70 percent of bettors who currently access illegal sportsbooks say they would gamble on legal sites if the odds were the same. The AGA rep finished by stating overburdensome tax rates and an unneeded federal regulatory layer will prevent sportsbook from offering odds that compete with those found on illegal books."

At the end of the hearing, Rep. Sensenbrenner strangely concluded, “I think all of you can agree, is that for Congress to do nothing is the worst possible alternative. So, we have some work to do.”

He then adjourned the sports betting hearing.

By: Nicholas Garcia of Play USA

Lawmakers will converge on Capitol Hill Thursday to discuss sports betting for the first time following the repeal of the federal ban.

The House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations is comprised of 16 members. Most noteworthy, the House will hear testimony from industry stakeholders. Therefore, these include the National Football League (NFL), which continues to lobby Congress for a federal framework.

The hearing is titled “Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America.” It’s scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Eastern time.

LIST OF INDIVIDUALS PROVIDING TESTIMONY

The committee will hear testimony from five witnesses which include:

  • Les Bernal: National Director, Stop Predatory Gambling
  • Sara Slane: Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, American Gaming Association
  • Jon Bruning: Counselor, Coalition to Stop Online Gambling
  • Becky Harris: Chair, Nevada Gaming Control Board
  • Jocelyn Moore: Executive Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs, National Football League

POTENTIAL TALKING POINTS

Due to various sports betting issues, much of the discussion will revolve around tackling them. Certainly these include integrity feesofficial data suppliers, illegal black market and a federal framework.

All of these issues have been discussed by a number of states looking to pass sports betting bills. Most noteworthy, this follows the Supreme Court repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.

From the AGA’s perspective, the hearing will provide a platform. Industry stakeholders can educate lawmakers on the current gaming landscape, post-PASPA.

“It’s really an opportunity for us to talk about how highly regulated we are in the industry and our commitment to ensuring all illegal activity becomes legal,” Slane said in an interview Wednesday.

Many expect Harris to shelter the load of questioning. Above all, she is the chairman of the NGCB. Nevada has years of experience in regards to regulated sports betting.

Expect strong opposition from Bruning, Bernal and the NFL to push heavily for more federal oversight.

In written testimony submitted Wednesday, Moore urged Congress to act “immediately.” He said to create a “new statutory and regulatory standards for legalized sports betting.”

“The absence of a clear and enforceable set of legal standards for sports betting threatens the integrity of our nation’s professional and amateur sports contest – something Congress has sought to protect for more than 50 years,” wrote Moore in her seven pages of written testimony.

NEXT FOR SPORTS BETTING AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL

A spokesman for committee chairman Jim Sensenbrenner, a Republican, said the hearing has an ultimate goal. This is to determine if Congress needs to intervene.

“Sensenbrenner is very open-minded on this issue and is interested in what all parties have to say. There will only be next steps if the committee determines Congress has a role to play,” he said.

A number of states are looking to introduce sports betting bills beginning in 2019. Seems like the hearing could potentially sway them. This includes Washington, D.C., which recently saw its own version of a sports betting bill released earlier this week.

IllinoisIndianaKansasKentucky and Ohio have all shown extensive interest in sports betting. Therefore these states plan on introducing legislation at the start of their respective legislative sessions.