The Congressional Sports Betting Hearing Didn’t Accomplish Anything

Written By Marc Meltzer on September 27, 2018

Thursday’s Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America hearing was held to see if there is a need for federal sports betting oversight. The current regulations call for individual state oversight.

This was the first hearing since the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn PASPA, a decision that allowed states the choice to offer legal, regulated sports betting.

The list of expert witnesses to offer different viewpoints included the following:

  • Jocelyn Moore, Executive Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs of the NFL
  • Les Bernal, National Director of Stop Predatory Gambling
  • Sara Slane, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs of the American Gaming Association
  • Jon Bruning, Counselor for Coalition to Stop Online Gambling
  • Becky Harris, Chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board

These hearings can be quite the fiasco at times. The government officials usually don’t have much knowledge of the topics. The meetings can sound like a bunch of old men trying to learn or just go off the rails on a semi-related topic.

About this hearing

Thursday’s hearing about sports betting was a little bit of both. The NFL submitted seven pages of testimony that’s largely comprised of things you’ve probably heard before. They want to protect the integrity of the game, force official data on sportsbook operators, and then mentioned something about ghost games.

For some reason, the NFL doesn’t think states can keep people under 21 from betting on their games. The NFL’s commentary wasn’t new and was fairly useless. However, it did get the Senators thinking about federal regulation for sports betting.

The Wire Act (1961) and Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (2006) were mentioned throughout the 90-minute meeting. While internet and mobile are important in regulating sports betting, that’s not what this hearing is about. Thanks to the NFL and Coalition to Stop Online Gambling, the topic devolved into that topic.

Apparently, the Republicans at the hearing walked away thinking that something must be done on a federal level. It’s probably not a coincidence that Sheldon Adelson funds the Coalition to Stop Online Gambling. Earlier this year he donated $30 million to the Republican party. Funny how their thoughts mirror Adelson’s thoughts.

What’s next?

The hearing on Thursday was informational. There is no plan to create a federal framework for sports betting and there are no more hearings to discuss it. While the NBA and NHL are forging ahead with partnerships with casino and sportsbook operators, the NFL is standing firm with its thoughts on integrity and data.

This shouldn’t be a hot topic for the Senate as the year comes to a close. Mid-term elections and Supreme Court nominations will probably be the focus of the government for the time being. Nothing was accomplished. The Senators just sided with lobbyists and political donors. There’s no plan moving forward. The hearing was really a waste of time for just about everyone.

Marc Meltzer Avatar
Written by
Marc Meltzer

Marc Meltzer grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

View all posts by Marc Meltzer