The NFL’s reacted to the scuttling of the federal law prohibiting the expansion of sports wagering in the various states by vowing to lobby for a new federal law regulating the expansion of sports wagering in the various states. And it appears that the NFL already has a piece of legislation that it may be prepared to support.
Senator Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah) announced Monday that he plans to introduce legislation aimed at creating national standards for sports wagering.
“The problems posed by sports betting are much the same as they were 25 years ago,” Hatch said in a press release. “But the rapid rise of the Internet means that sports betting across state lines is now just a click away. We cannot allow this practice to proliferate amid uneven enforcement and a patchwork race to the regulatory bottom. At stake here is the very integrity of sports. That’s why I plan to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to help protect honesty and principle in the athletic arena. I invite stakeholders and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in addressing this important issue.”
The word “integrity” quickly has become a hot button in the gambling debate, because sports leagues hope to impose an “integrity fee” onto the betting framework, giving them ostensibly revenue for ensuring that their sports have a high degree of integrity but as a practical matter giving them money for nothing, because they already should be striving for the highest degree of integrity in an atmosphere of legal gambling in Nevada and widespread illegal gambling elsewhere. It will be much easier to get Congress to impose an “integrity fee” that would apply to all states than to negotiate the fee in 50 different jurisdictions.
Whether Congress may legally regulate sports wagering remains to be seen. The 1992 federal law preventing the expansion of gambling failed before the Supreme Court because, ultimately, the states have the right to make these decisions. There necessarily will be a line that the federal government can cross when telling the states how to go about implementing a gambling program.