A new organisation in the US has been formed to fight the 25-year-old ban on sports betting.
The American Sports Betting Coalition (ASBC) formation was announced on Monday by the American Gaming Association (AGA), which believes sports betting in the US should be legalised.
The AGA represents the US casino industry and among the members are Penn National Gaming Inc., Boyd Gaming Corporation and Greenwood Racing Inc. all of which run racinos.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) which prohibits sports betting in America, excluding the state of Nevada.
The AGA has revealed despite the law, 50 million Americans bet on the Super Bowl this year and the majority of the bets were made illegally.
AGA president and CEO, Geoff Freeman, said during the announcement this statistic and the new coalition provided the best chance of getting the ban lifted.
“I have every confidence we will succeed in getting this done,” he said.
The ASBC is made up of government employees, elected officials and casino industry leaders who will all work together to fight PASPA and combat the $US150 million illegal sports betting market – estimated by the AGA.
The ASBC cites the use of law enforcement to stop illegal sports betting – an issue which it says is a necessity and the reason behind the push for a legalised and regulated sports betting environment.
The mission statement of the new coalition has outlined the importance of individual state governments and says “federal law prohibiting sports betting has failed.”
“Out of step with American attitudes, it has created a massive illegal gambling market without any rules or protections,” the mission statement adds.
“It’s time to end the federal ban on sports betting.”
Freeman revealed the AGA is conversing with Congress members and he said he is optimistic action will be taken to review the PASPA.
He also noted new data which reveals the benefits of legalising sports betting including up to 152,000 jobs, $26 billion in economic output, and $5 billion a year in tax revenue for individual states and local communities.
A recent survey by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner – commissioned by the AGA – showed nearly six in 10 Americans are in favour of legalising sports betting, with a 72 percent approval increase when just sports fans are counted.
But some industries associated with gambling are wary of sports betting.
While lifting the 1992 ban would increase revenue for racetracks, National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) president and CEO, Alex Waldrop, said it needs to be looked at from a variety of angles.
“We’re aware of it, and we have met with the American Gaming Association,” Waldrop told Thoroughbred Daily News.
“It does appear that their goal is a repeal of PASPA, which would do nothing more than put it back to a state level, where they would decide, much like casino gambling.”
Waldrop said he does not think the AGA’s approach of repealing the PASPA is the same as legalising sports betting. He also revealed he had already discussed the issue with NTRA members.
He said, instead “it simply opens the door for states to make their own independent determination” and does not “preclude any group of racetracks from being part of any authorising legislation at the state level.”
Monmouth Park is one racetrack in New Jersey which is attempting to fight the PASPA at a Supreme Court level. The repeal would be a welcome move and would aid Monmouth’s search for an alternative stream of revenue.
“This is exactly what Monmouth needs, so from that perspective, there are certainly going to be people in the industry who are very supportive of it,” Waldrop said.
But he questions whether the legalisation would result in competitive betting facilities which would in turn negatively impact Monmouth and other racetracks.
“I think there are going to be others who sit back and say, ‘How will this affect us? Do we need to negotiate something in return?’ So we’re taking a look at it from a variety of perspectives,” Waldrop said.
He added the NTRA would come to a decision on the repeal within six months after noting he did not think a resolution was an imminent requirement, despite the formation of the ASBC.
He said there was significant opposition in Congress and sporting codes, predominantly in the NFL too.
But Waldrop added sporting leagues may change their approach on sports betting given the rise of daily fantasy sports and the links to sporting codes.
“The view of some is that there’s a level of hypocrisy on the part of the sports leagues, who want to oppose sports gambling, but they somehow are going to tolerate daily fantasy,” Waldrop observed.
“It seems inconsistent.”
Former Boston Police Commissioner and a member of AGA’s Illegal Gambling Advisory Board, Ed Davis, said the federal law was contradictory.
He has worked on a number of cases involving organised crime where networks would use illegal sportsbooks to launder mone to finance other illegal activities.
“This is a very serious problem we need to talk about in the United States,” he said.
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