By David Purdum
Pennsylvania and the United States Conference of Mayors each adopted resolutions this week in support of taking a new look at how the country approaches the massive underground sports-betting market.
On Wednesday, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed House Resolution 619 that urges Congress to lift the federal ban on sports betting. The resolution, sponsored by state Rep. Rob Matzie, passed by a 140-59 vote and will now be sent to Congress.
“Just last week, the National Hockey League announced the awarding of a franchise to the City of Las Vegas,” Matzie said in a release. “This shows just how drastically public opinion and policy has shifted over time and should deliver the killing blow to the notion that professional athletics cannot coexist with legal sports wagering.”
Pennsylvania also is pursuing legislation that would allow the state’s casinos to offer sports betting, if the federal ban — the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 — is amended or appealed.
On Monday, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more, also passed a resolution. It states that the nation’s mayors “believe it’s time for a new approach to sports betting in the United States that could include strict regulation, rigorous consumer protections, taxation of revenues to benefit local communities, and robust tools and resources for law enforcement to root out illegal sports betting and uphold the integrity of games.”
The mayors pledged to work with the American Gaming Association to study the potential benefits of a regulated market. The resolution was sponsored by Nan Whaley (Dayton, Ohio), Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (Baltimore) and Sylvester “Sly” James (Kansas City, Missouri).
The American Gaming Association estimates $149 billion was bet on sports illegally in the U.S. in 2015. Just over $4.2 billion was bet at Nevada’s legal sports betting market, in comparison,
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act prohibits state-sponsored sports betting in all but a few states. Nevada is the only state permitted to offer single-game wagering.
New Jersey is in nearly four-year legal battle with the NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball to bring legal sports betting to its ailing casinos and racetracks. A decision from Third Circuit Court of Appeals is expected this summer.