Two members of Congress hailing from states that already have legal and regulated sports betting say there’s plenty of proof it works quite well without federal oversight.

New Jersey Congressman Tom MacArthur and Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus wrote a letter to the US House of Representatives subcommittee set to host a hearing on legal sports betting this week, claiming almost 70 years of state-regulated sports betting in Nevada is all the evidence required:

“Nevada, which has had legal and regulated sports betting since 1949, proves that sports wagering can be properly regulated at the state level to enshrine consumer protections, law enforcement, and wagering integrity.”

A congressional hearing on sports betting

The House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigation will host a congressional hearing on a topic entitled “Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America” on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 10 a.m.

The letter from MacArthur and Titus is designed to act as a warning to the subcommittee, and all members of Congress, not to create a “heavy-handed federal framework” for sports betting they suggest could:

  • Repress innovation and competition
  • Undo the work several states have already done
  • Send gamblers back to the illegal sports betting market

In fact, MacArthur and Titus said the subcommittee needs to tread carefully if they consider any type of federal involvement in the emerging US sports betting market:

“As members from states that have already legalized, regulated, and opened the doors to sports betting, we have seen success of regulation at the state level and feel proposals for a federal framework should be approached with caution.”

State-regulated sports betting is growing

Legal and regulated sports betting is up and running in the following states:

Additionally, MacArthur and Titus state that legal and regulated sports betting will soon launch in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

With that in mind, MacArthur and Titus say any new federal policy on sports betting should follow precedent for policies on gambling.

However, that would mean assisting states in enforcing their own laws rather than enacting a federal framework.

And what about integrity fees?

Additionally, the letter from MacArthur and Titus suggests Congress avoid listening to calls from various pro sports leagues for integrity fees on sports betting.

In fact, the pair suggests state regulations can protect the integrity of sports just fine. Any type of integrity fees would only eat away at tax revenues and the already slim margins sportsbooks earn. It’s the kind of thing that will make it more difficult for legal sportsbooks to compete with the illegal market.

Finally, MacArthur and Titus want Congress to consult states with legal and regulated sports betting before doing anything.

In the meantime, the post-PASPA hearing could be the beginning of the federal government undoing the work done by states with legal sports betting.

NJ sports betting and the future

However, Congress has no current sports betting bill before it.

With midterm elections coming up and Congress busy with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, it’s a moot point. There appears little chance much will come of Thursday’s congressional hearing.

Despite the recent push by Sens. Chuck Schumer and Orrin Hatch for a federal sports betting framework, there is not much movement on that front.

Meanwhile, New Jersey is nearing the end of its third full month with legal and regulated sports betting.

Since launching in mid-June, the NJ sports betting market has grown to include eight brick-and-mortar sportsbooks and another eight online sports betting operations, including DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook.

In August, NJ sports betting operators took in approximately $95.6 million in bets. They posted close to $9.2 million in revenue. Furthermore, both numbers should grow substantially in September with the kickoff of the NFL season.

Bottom line, much like Nevada, the Garden State is fully engaged in sports betting. Yesterday’s letter from Titus and MacArthur wants Congress to be aware of what’s already working.

Martin Derbyshire

About

In his over 10 years covering the US online poker, legal NJ online gambling, and land-based casino industries, Martin Derbyshire has worn the hats of award-winning journalist and video and film producer. He has logged countless miles reporting on the world of high stakes gambling.