by David Purdum, ESPN
Congress’ interest in the expanding U.S. sports betting market is growing.
Draft legislation that aims to provide federal oversight to sports betting surfaced out of retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch’s office this week. The 37-page untitled discussion draft, obtained by ESPN, is viewed as an initial step in what’s expected to be a long, tedious process that will play out as legal sportsbooks pop up in an increasing amount of states.
The legislation, which would allow wagering on professional and collegiate sports, would require states to apply for approval from the U.S. attorney general when implementing new sports betting laws and regulations. It would force sportsbook operators to use official league data to grade wagers until at least 2023 and create a mechanism for authorities to target unlicensed operators domestically and offshore.
In addition, the bill calls for the formation of the National Sports Wagering Clearinghouse, which would collect anonymized sports betting data in real-time, including the amount and type of wagers, date and time in which the bet was accepted, where it was placed and the outcome. The goal of the clearinghouse would be to monitor for any unusual betting patterns, a potential sign of corruption.
Hatch’s comprehensive legislation also addresses sports betting advertising and problem gambling, and looks to amend two federal gambling statutes. The bill would amend the Wire Act of 1961 to allow sportsbook operators to lay off bets to other states through compacts, and strengthen the Sports Bribery Act of 1964 by adding extortion, blackmail and wagers based on non-public information as violations.