The American Gaming Association (AGA) launched a new campaign this week aimed at ending the federal ban on sports betting across America.

In fact, the newly formed American Sports Betting Coalition (ASBC) is bringing together stakeholders on all sides of the issue. It is looking to have the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) repealed. This is the law that makes traditional sports betting illegal everywhere except Nevada, NFL parlay sports betting in Delaware, and game square wagering in Montana.

“Big Government’s 1992 sports betting prohibition has failed to protect sports, fans and communities,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA, the group leading the ASBC campaign.

“We are partnering with local and state elected officials, law enforcement and other diverse interests to tell Washington to get out of the way. Regulated sports betting is what fans want and sports integrity demands.”

New Jersey leads the fight for legal sports betting in the US

Over the past few years, the state of New Jersey has pretty much led this fight. In fact, New Jersey lawmakers passed a bill in 2011 legalizing sports betting at racetracks inside and Atlantic City casinos.

But before the industry got off the ground, major sports leagues including the National Football League, National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball filed suit. These groups have challenged New Jersey’s right to legalize sports betting.

However, New Jersey ultimately turned the case into its own challenge of PASPA, but this case did not go well. A district court upheld the federal ban on sports betting in 2013. New Jersey appealed twice. However, the state lost two straight 2-1 decisions at the Third Circuit Court level.

The state asked the US Supreme Court to hear the case, but before it had a chance to weigh in, Acting US Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall recommended the court not take up the case.

The US Supreme Court is expected to announce a decision on whether to hear the case later this month. In the meantime, New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. released a draft of a bill last month that calls for the repeal of PASPA. The bill authorizes states to legalize sports betting and clarifies its ability to legalize online gambling.

Sixity percent of Americans support legalizing sports betting

A national survey by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner has discovered close to 60 percent of Americans are in favor of ending the federal ban on sports betting. As a result, the ASBC is poised to make a major push in that direction.

“PASPA is unconstitutional and a failed law,” Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said in a release launching the coalition’s campaign.

Said Schimel:

“I, along with several of my colleagues from other states, believe we must respect state sovereignty. That is why we filed an amicus brief to the New Jersey case. The rampant illegal sports betting that currently exists continues to fuel other criminal activities and provides no consumer protections. States should be able to determine for themselves how to address the issue.”

Several states have already introduced sports betting bills aimed at filling the void. These states include:

  • Pennsylvania
  • Michigan
  • South Carolina
  • New York
  • Maryland
  • West Virginia
  • Connecticut

Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis has joined the campaign. He claims its time to regulate sports betting for public safety reasons.

Plus, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett agrees, and is backing the new campaign.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans agree that allowing sports betting is something for the people of each state to decide, not the federal government,” he said. “Also, the potential revenue would be great for our local economics; and the tools for law enforcement would make our communities safer,” Cornett said.

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The sports betting campaign continues

The AGA has long called for the law to be repealed. It claims Americans already bet more than $150 billion on sports annually. The AGA claims most of this money is bet through illegal bookies and offshore online gambling operations.

A regulated market would give states the ability to monitor sports betting and help stop the flow of that money to criminal organizations. The AGA argues an open, transparent market would also make tracking betting easier, helping ensure the integrity of sports.

According to the release, the new coalition will lead an all-inclusive advocacy campaign focused on repealing PASPA. It will bring together law enforcement officials, states’ rights advocates, policymakers, and industry leaders in a push for legislative action in Washington, ending PASPA and leaving it up to the states to decide if they want to have sports betting or not.

For now, it has set up a website outlining the effort.

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.