by ESPN News Services, ESPN
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — A pair of U.S. senators from opposing parties are proposing that the federal government take back control of sports gambling in America, the first formal move by Congress after a Supreme Court ruling reopened a complex debate over fans betting on games and who controls the action.
Several states have begun offering sports betting after New Jersey won a long-fought challenge in May, and many others are expected to take up the issue during new legislative sessions in 2019 as a way to generate millions in revenue.
The federal bill introduced Wednesday by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-New York) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) would have the U.S. Justice Department set minimum standards for states to offer sports betting. It does not explicitly provide the sports leagues the cut of gambling revenue they have been seeking, so-called “integrity fees,” but does not prohibit them, either.
“I knew that Congress had an obligation to ensure that the integrity of the games we love was never compromised,” Schumer said of the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018. “That is why I believe the time is now to establish a strong national integrity standard for sports betting that will protect consumers and the games themselves from corruption.”
“The legislation we’ve introduced today is the culmination of eight months of high-level meetings, discussions and negotiations, and will serve as a placeholder for the next Congress, should they decide to continue working to address these issues,” said Hatch, who is retiring soon but said he wanted to show bipartisan support for federal regulation.
The NFL weighed in Wednesday with a letter to the senators expressing support for the bill.
“The threats posed to the integrity of sporting contests cannot be confined within state borders,” wrote Jocelyn Moore, an NFL executive vice president. “Without continued federal guidance and oversight, we are very concerned that sports leagues and state governments alone will not be able to fully protect the integrity of sporting contests and guard against the harms Congress has long recognized as being associated with sports betting.”