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U.S. Senator Plans New Sports Betting Bill

Sen. Orrin Hatch Says Federal Regulation Is Necessary

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In a twist of political irony, retiring U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the man who made headlines recently for criticizing a dying Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) over his funeral plans, is planning to push a federal sports betting bill over game integrity concerns.

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to rule that the federal law banning sports betting outside Nevada is unconstitutional, Sen. Hatch issued a statement to his website calling for federal regulations.

“The problems posed by sports betting are much the same as they were 25 years ago,” said Sen. Hatch, who was one of four authors of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992. “But the rapid rise of the internet means that sports betting across state lines is now just a click away. We cannot allow this practice to proliferate amid uneven enforcement and a patchwork race to the regulatory bottom."

What is his motivation? Sen. Hatch says sporting events can’t risk being compromised.

“At stake here is the very integrity of sports,” he continued. “That’s why I plan to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to help protect honesty and principle in the athletic arena. I invite stakeholders and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in addressing this important issue.” Sen. Hatch made no reference to existing technology to spot suspicious sports wagering.

Dozens of states are expected to pass their own laws pertaining to sports betting, especially if the federal government doesn’t get anything done. The Supreme Court ruling doesn’t require a federal regulatory framework, but some of the sports leagues have said that is what they would prefer. However, gambling is an issue that is usually left up to the states.

It’s not clear if a Hatch bill, or any other proposal, would pass Congress. New Jersey plans to kick off sports betting in the coming weeks. Around 20 states have made various moves toward sports betting just based off the fact that the Supreme Court planned to hear the case against PASPA.