Sports betting regulation is coming. That’s not pie-in-the-sky optimism. Positive factors are lining up for the best chances ever to repeal PASPA, the federal law that banned sports betting in 1992.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) is the most influential organization that lobbies legislators on behalf of casinos and gaming operators. The president of AGA, Geoff Freeman, said, “We have a perfect storm coming together. You have leagues, you have broadcasters, you have law enforcement, you have the casino industry—everyone is acknowledging that we are better off having a regulated environment.”
Add to all of that one more very big factor – the newly elected President Donald Trump, who just happens to be a former casino owner that understands the gambling industry very well. Optimism is high amongst supporters of casinos and online gambling, not necessarily so much because of Trump’s casino past. But more so because it was not an issue during the campaign. As Freeman noted, “Look at what happened in 2016, it was a remarkable year. You had an NHL team awarded to Las Vegas, you have an NFL team that’s ready to move to Las Vegas if they can find a stadium to play out of, you had a presidential debate in Las Vegas, and now you have a president of the United States who used to be a casino owner, and during the course of the campaign, the issue of casinos, and gambling, never came up.”
Another positive factor is the Republican majority in Congress. Freeman pointed out that “We have a Republican House, Republican Senate, Republican president. Generally those folks believe in state’s rights, and empowering states to legislate as they see fit. If you believe in that, then you’re inclined to think PASPA is a failed law.”
Still, not everyone is convinced that sports betting is a good idea. A recent Seton Hall Sports Poll from the Sharkey Institute at Seton Hall University, shows that regulating and legalizing sports betting is a bad idea according to 43% of Americans polled. Supporters were in favor by 46%. Adjusting the age range on this poll which surveyed 626 adults, showed 67% of people age 18-29 support sports wagering, and only 30% of those over age 60 oppose it. A majority in the 45-59 age group do not support sports betting.
A separate poll by the Mellman Group showed 30% of respondents saying that casino gambling was okay for others, but not themselves, while 57% approved of casino gambling as an acceptable activity for themselves. Response to another question showed 13% had never placed a bet on a sporting event but that they would if it was legal to do so.
Nevada is one of four states that are allowed to have legalized sports betting. But that’s not stopping people outside of the state from placing a bet. In this year’s Super Bowl, the AGA estimated that of the $5 billion bet on the game, 95% was done illegally.
Along with the Super Bowl, baseball’s World Series and NCAA March Madness basketball draw a large betting pool as well. Freeman pointed out that, “all are great opportunities just to point out the demand that’s out there for Americans to bet on these sports, to be engaged, to want to be invested. Daily fantasy sports was a great opportunity. Frankly, I think that has been the most significant thing when it comes to raising attention to the demand consumers have to no longer be passive, but to be engaged in these games one way or another.”
Adan Silver, NBA Commissioner, is a strong supporter of regulating and legalizing sports betting. Rob Manfred, MLB Commissioner, believes that daily fantasy sports companies such as DraftKings and FanDuel were hugely instrumental in creating fan interest in sports betting. Couple that with Trump in office and a Republican majority in the Senate and House, the odds are favorable that PASPA can be repealed. As Freeman said, “There is a perfect storm coming and we’re happy to be leading that storm as best we can.”