The inexorable expansion of legal sports betting continued this week as legislators rushed to beat their end-of-session deadlines.
DC passes sports betting bill
First up was the District of Columbia. B22-944 was approved by the District Council 11 votes to 2, authorizing both land-based and online and mobile sports betting. DC’s unique status as the home of the US Government means that the bill must now go forward to the Mayor for signature. After she approves the bill it then goes to Congress for federal approval.
The law restricts online and mobile gambling to the Intralot sports betting app except for the four Class A sports venues within city limits. Some other Class B venues may offer their own apps, but either way, there will be little opportunity for the big overseas brands to enter the market.
The Feds want to get into the game
The Federal Government has a legitimate interest in the DC law, but some of their shenanigans this week don’t look so positive.
Senators Orrin Hatch and Chuck Schumer are planning to introduce federal sports betting regulation. Sports betting historians may remember that Hatch was one of the co-authors of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). This was the act that the US Supreme Court overturned in May opening the floodgates for state-regulated sports betting.
Hatch was unimpressed by the decision and wants a mechanism where the US Attorney General approves (or disapproves) all state sports betting laws and regulation.
The bill also demands that only official league data is used to settle bets. On the face of it, this makes sense, but ignores many difficulties with overseas sports events.
Hatch is trying to get around the 10th Amendment that proved fatal to PASPA by amending the Wire Act to allow interstate compacts. These would facilitate betting exchanges across state lines. Bigger player pools help betting exchanges match a wider variety of bets.
And they may begin by re-interpreting the Wire Act
The Wire Act also came into the spotlight after rumors emerged that the DOJ may reverse its position on the law.
State-regulated online gambling and lotteries only began because the DOJ ruled that the Wire Act only prevented sports betting across state lines. It did not apply to other forms of gambling.
A reversed opinion would have wide ramifications, especially for those states such as New Jersey that are enjoying the tax proceeds from their own legalized online gambling.
The rumor may be one of those trial balloons—floated to gauge political reaction rather than seriously intended. Hopefully this is so and nothing more will come from such an ill-conceived attempt to interfere with state’s constitutional rights.
Michigan stays up late to pass sports betting legislation
Michigan lawmakers ran down to the wire to get their new gambling bill through state House and Senate. The House finally signed off on bill at around 3.30 a.m.
The bill includes a simple one-liner;
“The division may permit internet gaming operators licensed by the division to accept internet wagers under this act on any amateur or professional sporting event or contest.”
That should be enough to kick-start internet and live sports betting. Nothing will happen for 15 months to ensure that the tribal casinos and international operators all launch at around the same time.
All should now go quiet for the Christmas break. Happy holidays to all our readers!