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State betting laws could be vetoed under leaked federal bill

| By iGB Editorial Team
Draft legislation also outlines plans to force US operators to purchase official sports league data

US states would be required to have betting legislation approved by the US Attorney General and purchase official major league data under plans for federal oversight outlined in a leaked Congressional draft bill.

The comprehensive legislation would force states to apply for approval from the Attorney General when implementing new sports betting laws and regulations. However it does not specify if this would be required retrospectively for those states where betting is already legal and regulated.

In a nod to the sports leagues and those lobbying for integrity fees, all operators would be required to use official league data until at least 2023. A National Sports Wagering Clearinghouse would be founded to monitor for any unusual betting patterns, while the Sports Bribery Act of 1964 would be strengthened by criminalising the act of betting based on non-public information.

Looking beyond state borders, the draft bill would alter the Wire Act of 1961 to allow sportsbooks to operate across state lines through compacts.

iGamingBusiness.com understands the 37-page discussion draft was drawn up and circulated in the US Senate. 

The document is neither titled or dated and it is unclear who precisely the author has sought to discuss it with. Some media reports suggest the author was retiring Utah Senator Orrin Hatch (pictured), one of the authors of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 1992 who announced plans to progress federal legislation immediately after its repeal in May. Hatch, who is to retire at the end of this month, has yet to comment on the document.

Responding to the leak, the American Gaming Association (AGA) reiterated its support for state autonomy in betting regulation.

“Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in May, the AGA has consistently maintained that federal legislation regarding sports betting is not necessary,” said Chris Cylke, AGA’s vice president of government relations.

“That underlying position remains unchanged. At the same time, we remain committed to maintaining an open and constructive dialogue with policymakers considering sports betting legislation at any level of government.”

In May, Hatch described his fears of a “Wild West world of sports gambling” following the “devastating” repeal of PASPA.

Already looking to federal governance of sports betting he said in a statement: “Through balanced legislation, I believe we can create federal standards that not only align with constitutional principles but also uphold the integrity of the sports we love.”

While some have pointed to Hatch as the author of the bill, its text is similar to plans outlined in a briefing by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in August. At the time Schumer proposed a requirement that all sportsbooks only use official league data.

The leak comes two months after the ‘Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America’ hearing on Capitol Hill, when organisations such as the AGA and National Football League (NFL) were among those to give testimony to the Judiciary Committee.

In his closing remarks, hearing chair Jim Sensenbrenner suggested that the federal authorities must have some involvement in the oversight of betting across the country. “For Congress to do nothing is the worst possible alternative,” he said.

Following the repeal of PASPA, seven states now have legal, state-regulated sports betting industries, with Pennsylvania and Rhode Island the most recent market entrants.

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