In the wake of the landmark Supreme Court decision striking the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”), one of its original authors, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, has said that he intends to introduce a bill that would legalize sports gambling on a federal level. Among the reasons that Senator Hatch believes sports gambling legislation is needed is that the Internet’s proliferation has exacerbated the perceived problems associated with sports gambling that PASPA was originally intended to address.
What are the prospects of federal sports gambling legislation?
Senator Hatch has stated that he believes it is important to enact a single set of federal standards to prevent states from engaging in a regulatory race to the bottom. However, given the current partisan climate in Washington, one that makes enacting even the most mundane and necessary legislation difficult, it would seem unlikely that Congress currently has the political bandwidth and wherewithal to tackle the sports gambling issue. Nevertheless, given that Senator Hatch was one of the four original authors of PASPA, President Trump’s well-known history of involvement in the gaming industry, and recent calls from major sports league commissioners (including the NFL) for regulation at the federal level, the possibility should not be completely discounted.
What does the Future Hold for Sports Gambling?
Were Congress to take action on legal sports gambling, it is not anticipated that any final law would be put into place in the immediate future. It is far more likely that while Congress deliberates on if and how to regulate sports gambling, individuals states will create a patchwork of laws for businesses and individuals to navigate. While the varying state level sports gambling regulations may ultimately be the impetus for Congress to create uniform rules of the road, until such time as federal intervention occurs, it is critical that those interested in entering this space work closely with knowledgeable gaming lawyers to review all aspects of their prospective licensing applications and associated offerings.