June 13, 2017
By Jonathan D. Salant
They're behind the new American Sports Betting Coalition, which is trying to get Congress to repeal a 1992 law that allows such wagering in only four states: Nevada, Delaware, Montana, and Oregon. This would leave it up each individual state to decide whether to allow such wagers and how to regulate and tax them.
"We are partnering with local and state elected officials, law enforcement and other diverse interests to tell Washington to get out of the way," said Geoff Freeman, president and chief executive of the American Gaming Association. "Regulated sports betting is what fans want and sports integrity demands."
Led by the casino trade group, the coalition includes law enforcement officials and elected representatives. It lists the Fraternal Order of Police, National District Attorneys Association, Major County Sheriffs Association, U.S. Conference of Mayors and National Conference of State Legislatures as groups supporting its principles.
The governor says the Trump administration doesn't want sports betting, but it's up to the U.S. Supreme Court this summer
New Jersey has sought to allow sports betting at its casinos and racetracks as way to help its troubled casinos in Atlantic City.
The latest effort is before the U.S. Supreme Court, which hasn't announced whether it will take the case. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the state's most recent sports betting law in August.
In addition, Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-6th Dist.) and Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd Dist.) have introduced legislation to allow New Jersey to have sports betting.
The coalition's goal is to first meet with interested parties -- the gaming group already has talked to the players' unions in baseball, football, basketball and hockey -- to discuss what a world with legalized sports betting would look like.
Legal betting would be regulated, taxed to raise revenue for state and localities, and monitored using current technologies to find any unusual wagering patterns that could raise questions about the integrity of the sporting events, Freeman said.
A legal sports betting industry could create 152,000 jobs, pump $26 billion into the U.S. economy, and raise $5.3 billion in taxes, Freeman said.
Bettors are more likely to watch games and follow sports more closely, he said.
That could mean more viewers for broadcasters and advertisers.
The goal is to build support for repealing the 1992 law by disseminating such information, Freeman said. That law has failed to curb sports betting. The gaming association estimated that more than $10 billion was bet on the NCAA's March Madness basketball tournament in March, just 3 percent of it legally.
The NCAA and the four major professional sports leagues -- Major League Baseball, National Football League, National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League -- have repeatedly fought legalized sports gambling, even as some of the leagues have partnered with daily fantasy sports operations.
In addition, both the NFL and NHL are putting teams in Las Vegas.
Freeman in December expressed optimism that President Donald Trump, who formerly owned casinos in Atlantic City, would support legalized sports betting. Trump said in November 2015 that he was in favor of it.
"I'm OK with it because it's happening anyway," Trump told Fox Sports. "Whether you have it or you don't have it, you have it."