Coalition launches to make big push for legalized sports betting in the US

  • New coalition says it has the will of the people in bid to do away with sports betting ban
  • Launch come 25 years after introduction of Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) which blocked sports betting
  • $150 billion wagered illegally in US, with hopes of 152,000 new jobs if ban overturned

A newly formed diverse coalition has been formed to get rid of a 25-year-old act which puts of block on sports betting across the US, except in Nevada.

Geoff Freeman's American Gaming Association has helped for a coalition to campaign for legalized sports betting in the US. It is currently only legal in Nevada.
Geoff Freeman’s American Gaming Association has helped for a coalition to campaign for legalized sports betting in the US. It is currently only legal in Nevada.

The American Sports Betting Coalition (ASBC) is making a big push to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which was passed back in 1992. This federal law, which some see as unconstitutional, created a nationwide ban on sports betting in the United States, with Nevada being the only exemption to the rule.

The ASBC and American Gaming Association (AGA) have been fighting a long and hard battle to do away with the law, and now, 25 years after PASPA was first introduced, they have picked their moment for a drive for change.

Speaking in support of this is the fact that no less than seven states, including New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, have introduced their own sports betting bills this year, ignoring the federal ban.

Boosting economy and hindering criminal activities

The campaign launched by the ASBC emphasizes the positive effects that regulating sports betting would bring, primarily in terms of the country’s economy. Currently, there is an illegal betting market in the USA, estimated to be worth around $150 billion. With the regulation, the country could benefit through taxation, bringing in around $5.3 billion, it is claimed.

And the benefits legalization could create up to 152,000 new jobs, the coalition states.

According to Geoff Freeman, AGA CEO and president, sports fans in the United States want regulated betting, and these two organizations will lobby with the politicians and other interested parties to make it a reality. According to one survey conducted by the AGA, around 60% of Americans are in favor of doing away with the federal ban. When it comes to avid sports fans, this number is even higher, going up to 72%.

Ed Davis, a former Boston Police Commissioner now working with the AGA, also explains that PASPA doesn’t work. He’s seen the influence of illegal gambling on major criminal organizations first-hand and believes that a regulated sports betting framework is necessary.

Concerns still remain

The ASBC has an extensive plan in place for pushing their agenda through. The organization will cooperate closely with AGA’s Illegal Gambling Advisory Board as well as numerous law enforcement agencies and political entities to overturn PASPA.

And, while there is a strong wave of support for their cause going on right now, there are also concerns about negative effects of regulated sports betting. Some of these, already mentioned in PASPA, talk about match-fixing, which could potentially become more widespread if people are allowed to bet freely.

Furthermore, with the growth of sports betting industry, and associatied advertising activities, there will be concerns about problem gambling.

Finally, there are concerns that sports as such will become secondary to betting activities, and the entire focus will shift from sports to gambling.

OUR VERDICT

All of these issues aren’t anything new, as many countries that created a legal framework for sports betting have had to face them – Australia being a prime example.

So, if the ASBC and AGA are to push their agenda through, there is no doubt they’ll have to address many of these points and offer active measures that could prevent and deal with the problems as they arise.

There is also the curious contradiction of liberty in America, where gun ownership is considered an inalienable right, but a $5 wager on the Super Bowl is considered a freedom too far.

But it will be a long road. Their case is essentially built on the fact that despite PASPA, billions of dollars are wagered on US sports matches – money that has been driven underground, away from taxation, away from regulatory control. But it’s not like these arguments have not been presented before, time and again. They keep pushing on at the door, but will it open?

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