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U.S. Congress Eyeing Sports Betting Hearing

Hearing On Capitol Hill Scheduled, Then Postponed

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Just about six weeks after the highest court in the land struck down a federal law that banned single-game sports betting outside of Nevada, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are planning to soon hold a hearing on potential legislation.

According to a report from ESPN, a hearing was planned for as early as Tuesday of next week, but lawmakers had to reschedule it. The hearing was postponed due to “scheduling complications in unrelated policy areas,” the report said. There is no new date yet.

In mid-May, the Supreme Court gave states the right to authorize sports betting within their respective borders, but there have been calls for federal oversight now that the floodgates are opening. Delaware and New Jersey have already taken advantage of the new legal landscape, with Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Mississippi all moving quickly toward sports betting. Even a casino-less state like Kentucky is looking at legislation.

The NFL, notoriously anti-gambling in the public arena, is among the groups that are expected to testify at an upcoming hearing on Capitol Hill, per the report.

“We have spent considerable time planning for the potential of broadly legalized sports gambling and are prepared to address these changes in a thoughtful and comprehensive way, including substantial education and compliance trainings for our clubs, players, employees and partners,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement last month.

“These efforts include supporting commonsense legislation that protects our players, coaches and fans and maintains public confidence in our games. We are asking Congress to enact uniform standards for states that choose to legalize sports betting.”

According to Goodell, federal legislation must protect consumers, allow for the leagues to “protect” their content and intellectual property from theft or misuse and give law enforcement the resources and tools to “protect our fans and penalize bad actors here at home and abroad.”

The NBA is also on the record calling for a federal framework.

The House Judiciary Committee was slated to hold the postponed hearing. According to Legal Sports Report, the hearing was dubbed: Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America.

A live stream of the hearing was still active on the committee’s website as of early Wednesday.

Stakeholders in the industries impacted by the Supreme Court ruling are eyeing a U.S. sports betting market that could grow to $4b-$6b within the next five years.

While the House of Representatives still seems like the likely place for a rescheduled sports betting hearing, there’s also movement in the Senate for establishing more oversight. Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican who comes from casino-less Utah, is pushing the cause in the chamber. Last month in a statement, Hatch announced plans for crafting legislation.

“The problems posed by sports betting are much the same as they were 25 years ago,” said Hatch, who was one of four authors of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. “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."

“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.”

According to ESPN, Hatch is looking to amend the Sports Bribery Act of 1964 to accomplish those goals. That law is separate from the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992.

Depending on the outcome of the hearing or hearings, federal legislation could wind up on President’s Trump desk. Back in the early 1990s, Trump called sports betting legalization “vital.”