A special House Judiciary subcommittee meeting held yesterday saw Republicans strongly support the idea of federal regulations on sports betting. The hearing was held following the Supreme Court’s June decision to allow nationwide sports betting in states that passed the relevant laws. GOP members said that they were concerned about sports betting ads targeting minors. They also expressed their concern for the possibility of match fixing, and called on Congress to act.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, said that for Congress to do nothing was the “worst possible alternative.”
“We have some work to do, and I’m looking forward to working with you to try to come up with something both short term and something more permanent to deal with this issue,” he said. “I’m afraid if we don’t, there are going to be people who get hurt and get hurt badly.”
Since the Supreme Court made its iconic ruling, a number of states have legalized betting on amateur and professional sports, including Delaware, West Virginia, Mississippi and New Jersey.
Speaking in favor of sports betting was a Nevada gambling authority representative, who said that states were willing and able to regulate sports betting on their own, without Federal involvement. He said that previous fears regarding the expansion of gambling had been unfounded.
The hearing was coordinated by the House subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations and was held at 10 am Thursday morning on Capitol Hall.
Federal lawmakers heard testimonies from the American Gaming Association, the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the National Football League. The latter has traditionally been opposed to legal sports betting but has changed its tune in recent months.
Also testifying was Sheldon Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Online Gaming, which has actively fought to stop the transition of casino games to the internet.
Recent reports show that if all US states introduce legal and regulated sports betting, the market could be worth up to $15 billion annually. The AGA says that Americans bet around $150 billion each year on sports, and an overwhelming majority – 97% is done so illegally.