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Brookfield, WI—Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler urging the EPA to reconsider its plan to expand the sale of E15 motor fuel.

Rep. Sensenbrenner: “The Renewable Fuel Standard violates free market principles, puts consumers at risk, and is harmful to the environment. Expanding the sale of E15 will increase the danger of misfueling, causing damage to engines and voiding consumer warranties. I urge the EPA not to move forward with this plan.”


Congress first established the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) under the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The policy now requires that ethanol be blended into motor fuel at increasing levels each year. Currently, fuel can be produced and sold with a blend of 15 percent ethanol (E15). However, due to environmental regulations, E15 fuel cannot be sold during summer months. The Trump administration recently announced plans to lift the restrictions and allow for E15 sale year-round.

You can view the full text of the letter below:

October 11, 2018

The Honorable Andrew Wheeler
Acting Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20460

Dear Acting Administrator Wheeler:

I write to you with significant concerns about the recent proposal to expand the sale of E15 motor fuel.  The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has been in place for more than a decade, yet this policy continues to violate the free market and pose a threat to consumers. Expanding to year-round E15 sales would prop up the RFS and continue to subject American consumers and farmers to government-mandated decision making.

I have had a very active role in the debate surrounding fuel blends with higher ethanol contents. Through this work, I have had ongoing conversations with many interested parties—your predecessors at the EPA, industry representatives, consumer groups, and environmental advocates. My work on this issue has always been driven by the belief that the government should not mandate the use of any product—or fuel—and the country would be better served if the RFS mandates are removed completely. Since this is as much a political debate as a policy-centered one, I recognize the barriers to a complete overhaul of the RFS. However, I would like to highlight some of the most glaring issues and how they will be exacerbated by the expanded sale of E15.

Contrary to the special interest arguments, the RFS is unfriendly to consumers. Misfueling with E15 is dangerous for many common machines. For example, lawnmowers, boats, snowmobiles, motorcycles, and vintage automobiles are incompatible with this fuel blend. The EPA acknowledged these issues in the original waiver permitting the use of E15 in newer automobiles. However, there has been insufficient work done to mitigate the potential for misfueling. Allowing for the expanded availability of E15 sales puts American consumers in greater jeopardy of the dangers of misfueling and product failure.

Free markets drive American innovation and sustain our economy. However, the RFS policy is antithetical to free market principles. The complex, government-mandated market for renewable blending credits is ripe for fraud.  Additionally, the EPA’s use of its broad authority to grant exemptions from blending obligations demonstrates the standard’s unattainability. Furthermore, approximately 40 percent of domestic corn production now feeds into ethanol production, meaning a not-insignificant portion of American farmers are subject to the whims of government policy.  Rural America needs sustained, dependable growth, rather than programmed agricultural outputs generated by political motivations. The United States must return to its historical reliance on market-driven outcomes.

The RFS was established to strengthen national security by reducing dependence on foreign energy supplies. As an added benefit, it was also touted as decreasing the environmental impacts of automobile use. Some research questions whether increased farming activity correlated with the RFS cancels out its expected environmental benefits.

I understand some industries have exerted significant political pressure to convince the EPA to expand the E15 waiver. However, I urge you to consider the RFS’s legacy before propping up this overly-rigid, failed energy policy.


Member of Congress 

By: John Holden of Legal Sports Report

We’ll take a look back at the recent Congressional sports betting hearing in this short series.

In part one, we look at the opening remarks and the verbal and written testimony of the National Football League.

On Sept. 27, I was one of the people who watched the ‘other’ hearing on Capitol Hill.

While the Brett Kavanaugh hearing attracted most of the attention, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime was holding a hearing on sports betting.

What follows are my thoughts on the hearing, some of these were part of my Twitter feed (hopefully, with fewer typos), others were compiled as I read various statements filed with the committee.

As a disclaimer, I would note that these are my observations only, they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the other Legal Sports Report writers, and do not reflect the views of my academic employer.

In an effort to make my position clear, I believe that there is room for some federal regulation, in particular, in the area of modernizing federal match-fixing statutes and ensuring that manipulators are not able to play jurisdictional arbitrage and evade prosecution. I believe that are some federal regulatory models that support shared governance with the states, whereby the federal government acts in a support role to state regulators.

I filed a Supreme Court Brief in support of New Jersey in the Murphy vs NCAA case and believe that the federal government can intervene in a way that complies with the Tenth Amendment should it choose to do so. In my opinion, integrity fees or mandating official data do not pass muster.

Opening remarks

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner opened the hearing, making what I believe was a joke, noting that he viewed the topic as important as the hearing regarding Brett Kavanaugh’s fitness for a Supreme Court appointment.

The joke largely fell flat as it was difficult to tell if it was actually a joke. Certainly, Sensenbrenner’s next statements were not jokes when he outlined the options for Congress moving forward with sports betting.

  • The first option Congress has is the power to ban sports betting. This is invariably true as Justice Samuel Alito said so. What Congress cannot do is put out another piece of Swiss cheese legislation like the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Nonetheless, the likelihood of Congress banning sports betting is exceedingly low at this juncture, but the stakeholders should be acutely aware that this option does exist.
  • The second option is to let the states continue to regulate sports betting, in other words, maintain the status quo. This is the most likely option for the time being. Currently, the entire House is gearing up for elections in November and the Senate is consumed with elections of their own and the recently concluded Kavanaugh saga.
  • The third option, detailed by Sensenbrenner, is for the federal government to establish minimum standards for state regulatory requirements. This is something the federal government could do (constitutionally). The question is why would they? Most of the minimum requirements mentioned by the House Subcommittee are already being put in place by states.
  • There is a fourth option of course, Congress could regulate some aspect of the sports gambling industry, or pass legislation to support enforcement of state laws (in the form of other gambling statutes, which are designed to help states support their own laws).

A turn for the worse for the NBA

At this point, the comments from the chair took a bad turn for the reputation of the NBA as Sensenbrenner expressed a belief that former NBA referee Tim Donaghy fixed games, and was not merely betting on games he officiated, which is the official line that the NBA stands behind.

I can only imagine the expressions on the faces of NBA executives at 645 Fifth Avenue when Sensenbrenner, made the most contemporary betting scandal in American professional sports worse than the official position of the NBA.

Congressman Bob Goodlatte expressed several positions about sports wagering, first was a connection between illegal wagering, money laundering and terrorism. This position has been floating around for the better part of two decades.

There is anecdotal evidence that some terror suspects may have used online poker sites to turn stolen card numbers into cash, but there is no evidence, which I am aware of, that this practice is widespread in legal markets, or even exists in legal regulated betting markets.

Goodlatte made clear that he hates online gambling. This should come as no surprise to fans of gambling related-legislative hearings. That is fine, no one should be forced to wager online, but elected representatives should recognize that a practice that is happening anyway and is “unstoppable” should be regulated as opposed to being left in regulatory abyss.

Misunderstanding online gambling

Goodlatte concluded his trifecta of opinions by demonstrating that he did not understand that it is possible to exclude users based on their geographic locations. The precision of top-level geo-blocking technology, employed by many in the online gaming industry, is precise down to several meters, meaning that gaming companies are able to tightly control who is accessing their product based on their geographic coordinates.

The disconnect between what Goodlatte understands the technology to be and what it is in practice, was one of the most concerning features of the hearing. There has been a breakdown in educating Congress about what the regulated industry can do and the consequence of this failure could have huge ramifications. Companies are literally capable of putting a geo-fence around Goodlatte’s house so that neither he, nor his guests, can access any online gambling sites. For the rest of us, I would suggest we let our states decide.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York spoke after Goodlatte, and underestimated the size of the illegal market by about 90 percent when he articulated that it was between $50 and $200 million.

The sports betting witnesses

The witnesses were sworn in by Sensenbrenner, meaning that they were all under oath and required by law to tell the truth. Each of the five speakers was allotted 5 minutes to speak.

The first witness to speak was Jocelyn Moore, Executive Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs for the NFL.

In Moore’s verbal statement to the committee, she cited a lack of clear sports betting standards as a reason for needing federal intervention. The NFL may not like the standards, and in some places, I concur the standards are designed to protect profit for the state as opposed to protect integrity or convert black market bettors. But there are standards.

In her introductory remarks, MMoore stated we are in a race to the regulatory bottom. Many on Twitter took exception to that comment, but I maintain a different view of that issue, in particular with what we have seen with the sideshow in West Virginia, and tax rates in Pennsylvania.

This may not be a race to the bottom, but state regulation of sports betting outside of Nevada certainly does not appear to be in a race to the top. But, the NFL has not contributed one iota to proposing a regulatory model that protects integrity or consumers without the NFL receiving something in return.

Intellectual property and sports betting

Following her criticisms of state regulatory regimes, Ms. Moore called for federal protection of NFL intellectual property. This was a curious request because the federal intellectual property regime is quite robust and already protects NFL intellectual property, including team names, logos, broadcasts, and even the NFL shield.

The Copyright Actthe Lanham Act, and the US Patent and Trademark Office are all part of the federal regime that protects the NFL’s intellectual property. What I think the NFL is asking for, is for Congress to overturn existing judicial precedent and re-write our federal intellectual property laws so that the NFL owns pieces of information that exist in the public domain.

Enforcing the law

Moore transitioned to the key question overshadowing the hearing. Why pass a new law if the ones we have are not being enforced?

Moore and several other witnesses hit this nail on the head. There are powerful federal laws that enable the Justice Department to target illegal gambling operations, they are used infrequently. Until stopping illegal gambling becomes a federal priority, passing new laws is not going to be very effective, given the laws we do have are minimally enforced.

The DOJ has a budget, and with that budget they need to decide what types of investigations to pursue. There simply is not enough money, manpower, or time to pursue every criminal offense committed in or against America. Because of this, the DOJ is forced to prioritize what they target. That has meant, to date, sports betting is a lower priority than other crimes.

An imaginary sports betting staute?

Moore’s testimony was preceded by the NFL’s written statement, which on page two references a federal statute, which I have never heard of and have been unable to find a record of the existence of a statute titled: “federal barriers to state-sanctioned sports lotteries (1974).”

There were similar issues with the statement that UIGEA legislation was principally concerned with sports betting. Indeed, the first UIGEA related hearings were concerned with gambling generally, with sports betting following blackjack, craps and roulette according to Sen. Jon Kyl in 1997.

Official sports betting data

The NFL statement then drifted back into the commonly recited adage that sportsbooks should be required to use official league data. This, of course, has the opposite effect on integrity than their publicly stated objective of desiring to increase and protect “integrity” of the games.

Requiring use of official data creates a market of one, meaning that there is a need to only corrupt one segment, because there are no additional market participants capable of correcting the corrupted participant. In other words, having a million data providers provides better market security than having a single official data provider.

This argument for official league data is so self-defeating from an integrity perspective, it is absurd that it is still being mentioned as somehow correlated with increased security.

Other issues for the NFL

The NFL then recommended the ability to exclude some wagers. This is perhaps not a totally unreasonable request, indeed, Nevada already has a mechanism where leagues can petition for specific exclusions. There is, however, a risk that over-regulating the types of wagers allowed may create an opportunity for companies to exploit the intent of the rule, much like daily fantasy companies took advantage of UIGEA’s carve out to defeat the intent of the statute, or for the black market to continue to thrive.

Additional issues I saw with the NFL’s statement included, the league’s desire for an information-sharing agreement where books are required to inform law enforcement of irregularities. However, at least according to my reading of the NFL’s statement, this is a one-way street, meaning that the NFL does not view it as necessary for them to inform law enforcement or sportsbooks of irregularities.

Finally, the NFL appears to have a keen interest in helping the federal government prevent money laundering and tax evasion. It is not clear, however, why the NFL thinks the current federal statutes do not adequately encapsulate these activities such that it would be necessary to include them in a sports betting bill.

Nonetheless, I am sure that Uncle Sam is appreciative of the league’s efforts to stop tax cheats, especially now that the NFL has given up its preferred tax status after years of being a 501 (c)(6) entity—an exemption that specifically mentioned “professional football leagues.”

In part two of this series, we examine the testimony of the other witnesses before the house subcommittee.

By: Casino Betting News

House Republicans are in favor of new federal regulations on the sports betting industry, but growing concerns about advertising and minors’ exposure to the industry cannot be thwarted so soon. Heightened activity in Washington for the federal law currently appears to be on track.

At a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Thursday, GOP members shared concerns about sports gambling targeting minors and the industry’s potential to fix matches. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin Republican countered the arguments saying that Congress’ inactivity is the worst possible alternative in this situation.

The hearing was the first since Supreme Court’s June decision to allow states to open sportsbooks. Full-service sportsbooks have been in operation in Nevada, but the apex court’s decision has led Delaware, West Virginia, Mississippi and New Jersey to legalize betting on pro and amateur sports. Different rules and tax rates in different states could make the prospects of sports betting operators dim.

It could also leave sports leagues fiddling with regulations in different states. They have requested lawmakers for uniform standards for state-level regulatory bodies and also to make 21 years the minimum betting age. Their most important proposal is to let sportsbooks use official league data while limiting in-game prop bets.

The American Gaming Association was represented by Sara Slane at the hearing. The organization favors state-by-state sports betting regulations as additional taxes on casinos could be damaging to their existence. In the absence of better margins, these entities could be forced out of business. The executive director of Stop Predatory Gambling Les Bernal, on the other hand, said that gambling must be restricted to as much extent as possible, including a strict limit on advertising. Bernal noted that Americans could lose $1 trillion of wealth in the next eight years through government-sanctioned gambling.

Interestingly, no bill has been introduced by the GOP members that include all these proposals. The ill-effects of a nationwide sports betting policy may still not be fully comprehended by the lawmakers. While the industry suggests that legalization and federal regulation is good as it will help licensed, tax-paying businesses flourish. It will help in providing better consumer protection and avoid nefarious activities that take place in illegal betting markets.

Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Rep and Virginia Republican Bob Goodlatte said that online gambling could not be contained within state borders, which makes federal action essential. The tension over the consequences of federal regulation was evident at the hearing. Though it appears likely that GOP members would prefer to push for federal regulations, supported by sports leagues, the final look of the regulation is still unclear.

Brookfield, WI—Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05) issued the following statement after the Trump administration announced it has reached a trilateral trade deal with Canada and Mexico:

“Wisconsin stands to benefit from this new trade deal, which expands Americans’ access to auto manufacturing and dairy markets. This is an important step toward strengthening our trade relationships and growing our economy, and I applaud the administration for its persistence and hard work in reaching this agreement.”

By: Thomas McCoy of USA Online Casino

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations heard testimony regarding whether the federal government should step in to regulate the supports betting industry created in the wake of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Christi vs, NCAA, which opened the doors on legalized sports betting nationwide by overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

The hearing, entitled “Post PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America”, which invited five professionals to give testimony, was said by gambling industry advocates to be heaving weighted in favour of those who oppose all expanded gambling.

House Republicans came out strongly in favour of regulating sports betting at the federal level, raising concerns about match fixing and minors exposure to gambling.

“For Congress to do nothing is the worst possible alternative,” said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican as reported in East Texas Matters media outlet. “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.”

NFL favors regulation

The National Football League has also weighed in to support federal regulations. In prepared comments published before the hearing, Jocelyn Moore, the NFL’s executive vide president of communications, stated, “Without continued federal guidance and oversight we are very concerned that sports leagues and state government alone will not be able to fully protect the integrity of sports contests.”

Moore would go on to use the word “integrity” 24 times in her seven-page prepared statement. She also advocated for the league having control of all official statistics used in the industry.

“Consumers who choose to place wagers should know data is timely, accurate, consistent across markets – which can only be assured if the data comes from sports leagues or their licensees,” Moore said.

Moore’s testimony comes as major U.S. sports leagues are pressuring the industry in hopes of federal regulations that will ensure they get a larger slice of the estimated $150 billion legalized sports betting market.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, speaking for the Coalition to Stop Online Gambling also gave testimony aimed at securing greater federal regulation. As the spokesperson for billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Bruning is the mouthpiece for Adleson’s attempts to completely destroy all online gambling in the United States. Adelson, a GOP fundraiser and buddy of Donald Trump, has famously stated that he would “spend whatever it takes” to defeat online gambling.

Burning’s testimony focused on comparing the regulation of online gambling with legalized marijuana use in certain states, which he called unconstitutional.

“[L]et’s not forget the rights of states in which marijuana is illegal,” Bruning said as reported by Card Player. “Since marijuana was legalized in Colorado, Nebraska law enforcement has been overwhelmed with the amount of illegal marijuana flooding into the state […] As Attorney General, I filed an original action against Colorado in the U.S. Supreme Court asking the Court to declare Colorado’s marijuana laws violated the U.S. Constitution. But the Supreme Court refused to take our case. And to this day, Nebraskans continue to suffer from Colorado’s legalization of marijuana with no legal recourse.”

He claimed that the “same harm will come to Nebraska” when states legalize online sports betting. “Nebraska will be compelled to rely on the good graces, and regulatory capabilities, of those states that have legalized online sports betting,” he said.

As part of Adelson’s crusade against online gambling, Bruning’s testimony intentionally left out the fact that states in which online gambling is legal, including Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have not reported any problems with illegal attempts to gamble from other states thanks in large part of cutting-edge geo-location technology, able to identify in-state vs out-of-state bettors.

Gambling industry fights back

Despite the lopsided nature of the hearing, with two industry representatives present, Sara Slane from the American Gaming Association and Becky Harries, Chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, beside three anti-gambling advocates, the industry fought back with Slane stating, “The bottom line is, with such robust and rigorous regulatory oversight at both the state and federal levels, there is no need to overcomplicate or interfere with a system that is already working.”

Ms. Harris went on to add, “We have been in this business for decades and haven’t had any problems. What we have here is a regulatory process specifically to monitor what happens on both sides of the counter. This is all we do, and we’re good at it.”

Furthermore, the Washington Examiner published an op-ed piece after the hearing written by Chuck Canterbury, president of the nation’s largest law enforcement labor group, the Fraternal Order of Police, who wrote, “The 25-year-old federal prohibition on sports betting … was not only ineffective at preventing illegal sports betting, but it was actually helping to facilitate it. Today, millions of Americans bet on sports through a massive illegal market that operates outside the reach of law enforcement with no regulatory oversight, no means of protecting the integrity of the games, and no safeguards for consumers.”

He concluded by saying that “PASPA’s resounding failure has taught us a valuable lesson: Federal oversight is not the solution.”

Republicans, however were not to be easily deterred, with Representative Bob Goodlatte, a Virginia Republican stating, “I do not believe gambling is a victimless activity. I think that online gambling, in particular, can be more destructive to the families and communities of addictive gamblers than if a brick-and-mortar casino were built next door.”

Wisconsin Republican and Subcommittee Chair Jim Sensenbrenner, an advocate of federal regulation, ended the hearing by saying, “I think the one thing you all agree on is that for Congress to do nothing is the worst possible alternative. This means we have some work to do.”

By: Steve Ruddock of Online Poker Report

Considering the witness list and the circus-like proceedings of Congress’ recent gambling hearings, the bar for last week’s sports betting discussion on Capitol Hill was pretty low. And it didn’t take long for two witnesses to throw the primary issue out the window and devolve the hearing into a rant against online gambling.

  •  Jon Bruning, counselor, Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG)
  • Les Bernal, national director, Stop Predatory Gambling

The plot turn was foreshadowed by Bruning’s written testimony, as well as Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s(R-VA) opening remarks that put online gambling front and center just minutes in.

You can watch the entire hearing below, or peruse the live blog of the proceedings from Legal Sports Report.

This is not the hearing you’re looking for

Goodlatte’s remarks followed the opening statement of Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. Sensenbrenner stuck to sports betting.

Goodlatte didn’t.

As one of the driving forces behind the UIGEA in 2006, Goodlatte attacked the online component of sports betting.

He called online gambling more dangerous than land-based gambling, claiming that the federal government hasn’t done enough to enforce UIGEA. His claim ignored the role of the Department of Justice in the 2011 online poker indictments that became known as Black Friday.

“That could be a key issue for Congress to consider — what role the federal government should have in this,” Goodlatte said. “The answer to that question underlies this entire issue.”

Sidetracked by online gambling

Online gambling and the UIGEA were themes repeated many times throughout the hearing. Members of the subcommittee and some witnesses worked to drive a crowbar between land-based and online gambling.

As the hearing wore on, Goodlatte, Bernal, and Bruning seemed to be rattling off the same talking points. Each called online gambling a ‘different animal’ or a ‘different beast.’

The three were also advocating for, or at least open to the idea of “restoring” the Wire Act.

That’s an argument Online Poker Report has tackled several times. The word “restore” is a misnomer. The proposed legislation amounts to nothing more than a new federal prohibition on online gambling — not unlike the failed PASPA legislation in 1992.

Is federal action on the horizon?

Chairman Sensenbrenner brought the 90-minute hearing to a close with a non-binding call to action:

“I think the one thing that all of you agree on, is that for Congress to do nothing is the worst possible alternative.

“So this means 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. Because I’m afraid if we don’t, there are going to be some people that get hurt — and hurt very badly.”

Despite the fire and brimstone Sensenbrenner called down on Room 2141, the chances of meaningful federal action on sports betting and/or online gambling are slim to none. Not only is Congress doing nothing the best possible outcome, it’s also the most likely.

For evidence, look no further than the lack of progress on the Restoration of America’s Wire Act(RAWA) legislation of the last several years. Even with a deep-pocketed, high-profile benefactor, few lawmakers have been willing to attach their names to RAWA bills in either chamber of Congress.

When it comes to sports betting, even the anti-gambling Goodlatte said he was wrestling with the conflicting ideals of federal action and states’ rights. The latter ideology is one reason Congress has largely ignored the RAWA bills pushed by mega-donor Sheldon Adelson and his CSIG organization.

But the lobbyists are happy.

By: John Brennan of US BETS

After mainly focusing on Thursday on what five speakers had to say at a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee hearing on U.S. sports betting legalization in Washington, D.C., we are following up by looking closely at how the House members asking them questions addressed the topic.

Some of them ranged a bit far afield, and there was no real consensus on how to approach this issue in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in May that wiped out a near-total ban on legal sports gambling that had been passed by Congress in 1992.

But some clues were provided that could give us a better idea on what directions this committee might consider going in the future.

Congress’ trump card on sports betting

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, a 75-year-old Republican from Wisconsin, ran the meeting as chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. Sensenbrenner mentioned in passing one of the most misunderstood aspects of the Supreme Court’s voiding of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992: the fact that “Congress can regulate sports betting directly.”

Where PASPA failed, according to the 6-3 ruling on May 14, was by improperly “commandeering” states into doing the federal government’s bidding in enforcing the law. Sports betting legalization advocates should keep an eye out for any Congress member who pushes forward a bill for a 50-state ban — something Congress can do, all sides agreed during New Jersey’s battle with five major professional and collegiate sports organizations that began in 2012.

Sensenbrenner mentioned another option as “the free market” concept that defers sports betting choices to the states, which of course is the new status quo. A third possibility, Sensenbrenner said, is for Congress to “adopt uniform minimum standards” for states to follow.

He said that his “personal view” is that there will be a huge temptation to “throw games” — whether it be players or officials who are tempted. Something (Sensenbrenner didn’t specify what) needs to be done to protect legal bettors, “or we’ll be in a huge amount of trouble in the future.”

Legal liabilities and limitations

Sensenbrenner’s first question was a challenge to Sara Slane, a vice president with the American Gaming Association, on her assertion that legalized sports betting will drive gambling away from illegal bookmakers.

“Let’s look at what illegal sports books offer — they don’t ask for ID, many don’t ask for money upfront, if you strike it rich they don’t talk to the IRS so the IRS doesn’t get a 1099G report, and sometimes they even offer better odds,” Sensenbrenner said. “If I was walking around with a fistful of money that I was looking to bet, where would I go when the illegal sportsbook is offering all these goodies that the legal sportsbook can not?”

Of course, there is no good answer to that one, other than to hope that gamblers will prefer the relative safety and security of betting in a regulated environment.

The other question from Sensenbrenner went to Jon Bruning of the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling. The Congressman pointed to Bruning’s report that claims that more than half of 16-year-olds in the United Kingdom have gambling apps on their smartphones, and that two-thirds say they are “bombarded” by online gambling ads. Sensenbrenner also pointed to Bruning’s report of a 13-year-old who “somehow” got hold of Dad’s credit card and racked up $140,000 in debt in just a few days betting on his favorite soccer team.

Bruning responded that more federal oversight is needed, while taking a vague shot at Betfair, the worldwide online gambling power.

Other House members chime in

Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Virginia, is simpatico with Bruning on a desire to make online gambling illegal, and shares his skepticism that websites can prevent minors from playing. But from a classic conservative state’s rights perspective, he added that the federal government should not be involved in regulating gambling that takes place at sites such as casinos.

Another gambling foe among the five witnesses, Les Bernal of Stop Predatory Gambling, was given a chance by Goodlatte to say his peace — which basically is that states should not be in the business of trying to entice residents into gambling.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat from New York, came across as wary of further gambling legalization — although he also sought a variety of feedback. He said that “many years ago” he wrote a paper for a New York City mayoral candidate recommending opposition to off-track horse racing wagering legalization because everywhere it was tried, “sociopathology went up.”

Louisiana Democrat Cedric Richmond’s focus was on ways to prevent people from using credit cards to pay for their gambling. Becky Harris, chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, said that “credit card companies are reluctant to allow transactions to casinos.”

Val Demings, a Florida Democrat, opened the floor for anyone to talk about the sports organizations wanting to collect “integrity fees” from legal sports betting operators — which did little more than revive the same talking points the group had addressed earlier.

Doomsday scenario suggested

Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat, introduced a curious-sounding letter in which players’ unions of the major pro sports leagues expressed that an increase in legalized gambling could threaten the safety of players, referees, and even their families.

We say “curious” because while the safety of all of those parties is very important, it’s hard to imagine there are gamblers who are too law-abiding to make bets until such activity is legal, yet so dismissive of the law that they would be willing to harm or threaten to harm members of these groups.

Martha Roby, a Republican from Alabama, rounded out the questioning by asking how college athletes can be protected from the scourge of gambling scandals now that sports betting legalization is spreading.

About the only noteworthy information provided in the responses was that Harris, the Nevada regulator, is the mother of a college athlete.

So this committee overall seems still to be in the earliest stages of processing the fact that a new U.S. gambling era is at hand. Frankly, several of these members seemed to know very little about the topics. (Then again, don’t we all want members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations to invest their limited time in more important issues than this one?)

Finally, keep in mind that control of the House of Representatives may move from Republican to Democratic hands after the elections just over a month from now. So when this committee revisits this issue next year — there were no signs it will happen in 2018 — there may be new leadership, and a new philosophy, about whether Congress should step back in to play a role again in U.S. sports betting legalization.

By: Kim Yuhl of Play Pennsylvania

Last week, while the Senate was making headlines with Supreme Court hearings, the other chamber talked sports betting.

The House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigation hosted the hearing “Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America.”

The committee invited expert testimony to help decide where sports betting regulations belong – with the states or the federal government.

The hearing and its timing couldn’t be more interesting. Pennsylvania is almost ready to offer online sports betting and online gaming. Not to mention, four other states launched legal sports betting post-PASPA in recent months.

So why now? Well, the NFL may have had something to do with that.


As expected, the NFL was invited to provide testimonyJocelyn Moore, executive vice president, communications and public affairs, National Football League, made sure everyone knew the NFL supports federal sports betting regulations.

The NFL and the major sports leagues, along with the NCAA fought to keep sports betting from becoming legal outside of Nevada. After losing the war, it was obvious the league was looking for ways to capitalize on a new reality.

After several failed attempts to secure integrity fees at the state level, the NFL turned its lobbying efforts towards the federal government. When the Supreme Court found PASPA unconstitutional, it opened the door for states to regulate sports betting in the absence of federal regulations.

In her testimony, Moore contends “issues generated by sports betting cannot be confined within state lines.” As such, Moore believes sports betting is an interstate issue warranting federal regulations.

“While state regulators clearly have an important role to play in a post-PASPA environment, the federal government has primary authority regarding interstate commerce, interstate law enforcement, and international sanctions against corruption and money laundering.”


What Moore fails to mention is that technology has advanced significantly since PASPA first became law in 1992. Geolocating technology is highly effective. One only has to look towards Nevada and its eight years of on online sports betting history as proof.

Each of the new states that have come online in recent months has implemented strict geolocation regulations to ensure sports bettors are betting within the state lines.

In preparation for its online launch of gaming and sports betting, Pennsylvania has similar regulations in place. In fact, Penn National has already teamed up with GeoComply to ensure players are where they say they are.

Moore goes on to provide a suggested outline for federal regulations. Somehow, though, it feels as if the NFL is more intent on protecting how its image and data. Safeguarding consumers against the “dangers of sports betting” seems like an afterthought. Of course, the NFL believes that kind of protection comes with a fee to ensure the integrity of the game.


The sports betting hearing is unlikely to result in any meaningful movement before PA launches legal sports betting.

Currently, there are five sports betting licenses under review in the Keystone State:

The next Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) meeting is on Oct. 3. Translation: PA legalized sports betting is likely to become a reality sooner rather than later.

The sports betting hearing concluded with Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) saying:

“I think the one thing that all of you agree on, is that for Congress to do nothing is the worst possible alternative.

“So this means 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. Because I’m afraid if we don’t, there are going to be some people that get hurt — and hurt very badly.”

For now, states that are in the midst of enacting sports betting legislation, PA included, are staying the course.

First of all, not everyone agrees sports betting regulations belongs at the federal level. Secondly, the current legislature has not been entirely effective in actually legislating in a timely manner.

In all fairness, Moore did an admirable job in representing the NFL’s interests. Unfortunately, those interests conflict with the states, the sports betting industry, and most importantly with sports bettors.

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.

By: Ben Nuckols of The Philadelphia Tribune

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 on 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.

U.S. 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.”

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. — (AP)