GAME Act would repeal PASPA
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) has introduced a bill that would repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), the federal law that bans sports betting in all but four grandfathered states.
The bill, which will be lobbied hard by the American Gaming Association, was drafted by Pallone with help from a team of gambling experts that have helped him craft it over the past year. Called the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act—the GAME Act—would repeal PASPA and authorize states to legalize and regulate sports betting.
The Game Act, released last week by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, would remove federal barriers to state-sanctioned sports betting. IT would give oversight authority to the Federal Trade Commission and outline consumer protections that states would be required to have in place before offering legal sports betting or daily fantasy sports.
Section 8 of the Game Act would specifically repeal PASPA, the 1992 law that left only Nevada with full legal sports betting, along with parlay sports betting in three other grandfathered states.
“Despite the federal gaming laws in place today, Americans are betting up to $400 billion a year on sporting events alone,” Pallone said in a statement announcing the legislation. “It’s time to recognize that the laws are outdated, and the GAME Act will modernize them by increasing transparency, integrity, and consumer protections.”
Pallone’s bill comes as hopes are fading that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the state of New Jersey’s appeal of lower-court decisions blocking a sports-betting law Governor Chris Christie signed in 2014. A decision is expected from the high court within the next few weeks, but since the U.S. solicitor general issued an opinion that the court should reject hearing the appeal, it is likely that the lower-court decisions that the law violates PASPA will stand.
“This is not going to be the final bill that will be passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Trump, but you need to start somewhere,” Wallach told USA Today Sports. “Until (Thursday), there was no meaningful legislation that has been introduced that would (allow) for sports betting. It is designed to kick-start the conversation with an endgame of 2018 or 2019.”
While legislation repealing PASPA may not appear until next year, American Gaming Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman said he expects congressional hearings on the subject to begin this year. “I do expect hearings later this year,” Freeman said during a keynote speech at the East Coast Gaming Congress in Atlantic City. “We will assure that there are hearings this year asking the question, ‘What’s happened over the past 25 years (of the sports betting ban)?’
“Next year is the year when I see legislation being introduced—when I see progress beginning to be made in public fashion on Capitol Hill. Will anything get done in 2018? Doubtful. 2019 is a much more likely year. The midterm elections are over; it’s a much more likely year for something to get done.”
Freeman vowed that AGA will represent the industry in the coming push to repeal PASPA. “The key is that this industry is better positioned than it’s ever been, not to be on our heels but to get on our toes, to go on offense,” he said.