Jeff Sessions Takes Position; Casino Industry Urges for Change

by Jim Hall

Jeff SessionsAs Jeff Sessions prepares to take the position of the United States Attorney General, the casino industry of America are calling for change in regards to the sports betting approach.

Jeff Sessions, a former official in the state of Alabama, will soon take on the role as the United States Attorney General. As part of the process, Sessions will go through confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill. These hearings will take place this week and as they do, the commercial casino industry in America is trying to stay a step ahead, calling for a change in regards to the approach to sports betting in the US.

Letter Sent by AGA

A letter dated the 9th of January was sent to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee by the American Gaming Association in which the AGA discusses the most prevalent form of illegal gambling taking place in the US. The group has estimated that sports betting has an unregulated market that is worth around $150 billion a year in regards to handle. The AGA says that sports betting requires a different approach than the strategy that is currently being used to fight illegal slot machine gaming across the US.

The approach does not need to simply be more crackdowns by police but actually regulation, according to the AGA. Regulated sports betting in the US now takes place only in the state of Nevada and is limited in Delaware. Since the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was created, there are now casinos in 40 states and competition is growing.

The PASPA banned sports betting from taking place outside of the jurisdictions in which the activity was grandfathered in. This is the law that the American Gaming Association would like to see Congress revisit the law and changes made, be it repealed, replaced or amended.

2016 Efforts

Back in October of last year, Frank Pallone, a congressman of New Jersey, stated that he has plans to introduce legislation in which sports books will be legalized. However, no legislation has been introduced as the New Year begun. New Jersey has long been a state in the US that has tried to see the law against sports betting overturned. The state actually tried to work around the law by passing their own sports betting measure but pro sports leagues worked to block the state’s efforts.

The casino industry would like to see the PASPA overhauled instead of a state by state approach. Having a change on a federal level would allow an even playing field, which is something that sports leagues like the NBA and NFL seem to be comfortable with. The CEO and President of the AGA, Geoff Freeman, stated that instead of restricting betting, a federal ban has only fueled the illegal market to grow to the $150 million mark with no consumer protections in place. There are no tax benefits for the communities in the states and no safeguards in place for the integrity of sports games.

Freeman went on to state that within the past 25 years, the attitude of society has evolved and it has been proven that enforcement is unlikely to work. Because of this, the AGA is focused on regulation which seems to be what the incoming president is in support of.

An example of illegal sports betting in the US can be seen with the Super Bowl. The largest event of the NFL takes place in February and the AGA has estimated that over $4 billion in illegal wagers will be placed during the event. The black market is so large that it simply cannot be shut down.

It will be interesting to see as the new administration moves into position if changes will finally be made to see sports betting regulated across the United States or if the legislation will remain in place.