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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: 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.”

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: 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)

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: the Associated Press in the Union-Bulletin

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 expressed concerns Thursday 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. 

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.

A gambling-industry representative and a Nevada regulator told the committee 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 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 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.

By: Ed Scimia of Online Gambling

?A Congressional hearing on sports betting held by a House Judiciary subcommittee Thursday suggested that there may be an appetite for some sort of federal regulation of the industry, though no clear path towards legislation has materialized.

In what was the first Congressional hearing to deal with the sports betting industry in the past decade, lawmakers heard from five witnesses and seemingly came away with the impression that Congress should act in some form to provide oversight.

NFL Calls for Federal Oversight

Professional sports leagues and the NCAA have publicly stated that they would prefer some federal guidelines to rein in the state-by-state regulations that will ultimately govern how sportsbooks operate throughout the country. That opinion was expressed once again at the hearing by Jocelyn Moore, the NFL?s executive vice president of public affairs.

?Without continued federal guidance and oversight, we are very concerned leagues and states alone will not be able to fully protect the integrity of sporting contests and guard against the harms Congress has long associated with sports betting,? Moore told the committee.

The NFL has consistently expressed concerns about game integrity. The league has also pushed for the use of official league data in legalized sports betting, something that would give sports organizations more of a procedural hand in wagering.

?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.

The idea of federal oversight seemed particularly appealing to Republican legislators.

?I think the one thing you all can agree on is for Congress to do nothing is the worst possible alternative,? Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) said at the end of the hearing. ?So this means we have some work to do.?

Industry: Current Regulations Sufficient

In reality, not everyone at the hearing agreed with that sentiment. Witness Sara Slane, a senior vice president for the American Gaming Association, said that there was no need for further complications in what was already an effective system.

?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,? Slane told the committee.

That sentiment was echoed by Nevada Gaming Commission chair Becky Harris.

?We have been in this business for decades and haven?t had any problems,? Harris told the committee. ?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.?

But some legislators were not convinced, particularly when it came to bets placed over the internet.

?I do not believe gambling is a victimless activity,? said Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia). ?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.?

As of yet, no bills have been introduced to address the issues that were brought up during the committee meeting, though some lawmakers ? including Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) have produced general principles they would like to see in a federal framework.

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.”