BOSA Ready to Debate Federal Oversight of US Sports Betting

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PASPA may have fallen, but its long-awaited demise hasn’t quite signalled the end of federal intervention into sports betting. Not yet at least.

As the US continues, state-by-state, to embrace legalized sports betting there is one subject that continues to polarize opinion like no other; the prospect, no matter how remote, of federal oversight of the business.

Supporters of federal intervention argue that it would secure integrity for US sport and lead to a unified code of practise with sportsbooks required to use only official sporting data from the professional leagues. Those who are against such a move contend that sports wagering has already demonstrated its ability to self-regulate, citing years of trouble-free sportsbook action in Nevada as a true example of a business that has its house in order.

The controversial subject will be given a high-profile airing at what is being billed as the biggest sports betting event of the year in New York this April; Betting on Sports America. A special panel has been assembled to debate and discuss in more detail exactly what the implications might be for operators in a sports betting space governed by federal policy makers.

Among those to speak will be Dustin Gouker, industry expert, highly respected journalist and Head of Content at Catena Media who believes that federal intervention might be welcome, but only in a very limited sense, namely chasing down illegal operators.

Speaking with event organizer SBC, he said: “I definitely believe the federal government has a role to play in helping to curtail operators serving the US market illegally. The resources at the state level to combat competition from offshore are pretty minimal. In my opinion, any discussion of the federal government's involvement in sports betting should start there, not just be one of the moving pieces. Without enforcement federally, you're just adding a layer of bureaucracy and regulation that potentially makes it more difficult for legal sportsbooks to compete with illegal ones.”

Talking about the potential difficulties associated with federal oversight and the recently published pro-federal bill sponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch and Chuck Schumer, he noted: “My biggest issue is this; outside of tribal gaming and horse racing, the federal government has pretty much stayed out of the business of regulating gambling.

“Gaming has and continues to be a state issue, and the federal government suddenly getting intimately involved at how a certain type of gaming goes down does not seem like a great idea to me. If Congress had taken action before the fall of PASPA, that could have been a positive development. But by the time Congress gets around to actually considering passing this bill, a lot of states will have sports betting laws already on the books. Retroactively trying to fit those laws into a federal framework is less than ideal.”

Turning to April’s Betting on Sports America event, we asked Gouker what would be his main message to delegates. “Integrity of sport and as it relates to sports betting is an important issue, but it's not like it just became an issue because of the fall of PASPA,” he responded. “There's been plenty of legal betting in Nevada and in Europe and other markets for a long time. There's no shortage of offshore sites where you can easily place a bet if you're an American.

“Everyone should be looking at legalization and regulation in the US as an opportunity to improve integrity monitoring and cooperation. The worst thing you could do for integrity is let the status quo prevail of limited sports betting options in the US. With the black market, we have almost no insight publicly into what's going on as far as markets, or who is placing bets and for how much. Moving betting to regulated markets - in a way that is affordable for operators - should be everyone's goal with respect to integrity.”

Betting on Sports America is the largest sports betting conference & exhibition and will present 175 leading industry speakers across 40 sessions and 3 conference rooms. The 61,000 sq ft large exhibition will bring delegates 60 exhibitors, world class hospitality, and the very best networking and business opportunities. For more information or to get tickets please CLICK HERE.

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