Congress Reviewing Federal Gambling Laws

by Jim Hall

A congressional committee is currently reviewing federal gambling laws, including legislation that covers sports betting prohibition.

Gambling laws on a federal level in the United States are pretty consistent. States have been making changes on an individual, but on a federal sense, gambling is pretty much the same. However, this may not stay the case in the future based on recent developments. A congressional committee is now working on reviewing gambling laws on a federal level that will include the sports betting prohibition law in the US. Other forms of gaming will also be reviewed including daily fantasy sports.

A New Look at Gambling

Frank Pallone Jr.Speaking with ESPN, United States Representative Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey stated that the current gambling laws in the federal sense are considered obsolete and are in desperate need of being updated. This includes the laws covering sports betting. Pallone further stated that the law needs to have a wholesale review to try and determine how the laws and work together to create a fair playing field for all gambling types including land based and online, plus daily fantasy sports and sports betting.

At the same time, Pallone also stated that laws have to be created to make an environment that is both accountable and has integrity with strong consumer protections. Pallone says that he plans to continue discussions with key stakeholders and introduce a comprehensive legislation option to eventually update the laws.

Daily fantasy sports continues to be an activity that legislators are considering due to legality. Back in May, a hearing of the topic was hosted by the House Energy and Commerce Committee which put emphasis on federal gambling laws that have been unable to stay in line with technological advances. Basically, older laws need to be updated due to the introduction of technology and new way that activities are enjoyed today such as with the internet or with mobile devices.

Current Sports Betting Laws

When it comes to sports betting, there are three statues within the federal law:

With new legislation, each of these measures would need to come together to create a comprehensive solution for gambling across the board in the United States. The PASPA limits sports betting to only four states, with just Nevada being allowed to offer single game wagering. This could soon change if legislation is changed by lawmakers.

Even though sports betting as well as online gambling is limited in the United States, players still take part, be it with offshore gambling sites or illegal sports betting. In the United States alone, it has been estimated that as much as $149 billion is spent on illegal sports wagers with offshore sportsbooks that are unregulated as well as local bookmakers. This money could be used by states that offer such gaming options if legalized, as well as create a safer environment for those who wish to wager.

Many states are realizing the money is being spent and want to see the case invested in their state. Pallone’s state of New Jersey has tried to fight the sports betting prohibition, having spent millions in the process only to be defeated. The state is currently in their second appeal within the United States Supreme Court regarding the issue.

For now, legislators will be looking at the current laws and determining how changes can be made to ensure that each law coincides with the other and is changed based on the technological advances that only continue to take place.