Where Is Online Sports Betting Headed In The U.S.?

online-sports-bettingBetting is an activity that seems to be inbred in humans. Betting, or gambling in some form or another has been going on since time immemorial. Even in ancient Roman days, humans were trying in some way to either ban the activity or to regulate it in order to tax it.

So what has changed in present day? Nothing. Pro-gambling legislators are still trying to regulate in order to tax, and anti-gambling legislators are still trying to ban gambling as an immoral scourge on society.

Now we come to an interesting crossroad with a new administration coming into power that has majority control over the House, Senate and White House. President-elect Trump has past ties to casino gambling as a former casino owner and would seem to be sympathetic to changing federal gambling laws. But within his own party are legislators that are beholden to the deep pockets of Sheldon Adelson’s campaign contributions and who is firmly and adamantly against any form of online gambling, including online sports betting.

The ranking Democrat in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, U.S. Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ), has said that “current federal gambling laws are obsolete and in desperate need of updating,” including those that deal with online sports betting. He continued with, “The laws need a wholesale review to see how they can actually work together and create a fairer playing field for all types of gambling, both online and offline, including online sports betting and daily fantasy sports. At the same time, we must ensure the laws are actually creating an environment of integrity and accountability, and include strong consumer protections. I plan to continue discussions with the key stakeholders and then will introduce comprehensive legislation to finally update these outdated laws.”

Contest that point of view with some Republican Party members. In 2015, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), along with eight cosponsors that included Republican senators Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton and Democratic senator, Dianne Feinstein, introduced the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (S.1668) to “restore long-standing United States policy that the Wire Act prohibits all forms of Internet gambling, and for other purposes.” The bill would amend provisions of the federal criminal code, commonly known as the Wire Act, to provide that the prohibition against using a wire communication facility for the transmission of bets or wagers, wagering information, or wagering proceeds shall: (1) apply to any bet or wager (currently, to bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest); and (2) include any transmission over the Internet carried interstate or in foreign commerce.

That bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but it never came up for a vote. A new bill, S.3376, was crafted in 2016 by the same Senators, Cotton, Lee and Graham. It is a “reaffirmation of the prohibition on funding of unlawful internet gambling.” It also was presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but has not yet come up for a vote.

So, whether these senators are actually acting upon their “moral duty” to do what’s best for American citizens, or simply paying off campaign debt, is immaterial. The fact of the matter remains that federal gambling laws are obsolete and need to be repealed to represent a new reality.

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