- The American Gaming Association once again underlines the shortcomings of PASPA
- The Act is obsolete, restrictive, and it is a direct attack on the states’ sovereignty
The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was passed back in 1992, with a titular aim to protect the integrity of sports. As a part of the protection process, PASPA also banned sports betting in all but a few US states, turning betting into an illegal activity.
The American Gaming Association is one of the most vocal opponents of PASPA, constantly emphasizing the Act does more damage than good, while simultaneously jeopardizing the states’ sovereignty, not allowing them to enact laws that are in the best interest of their citizens.
In her recent post, AGA’s Stacy Papadopoulos, senior VP of industry services with the organization, once again underlined all the reasons why PASPA has outlived its usefulness and it is time for a change.
Attack on states’ independence
The US Congress can pass laws that regulate relations between different US states. Thus, it can, within constitution, enact a law that would ban interstate betting, for example.
PASPA, however, doesn’t do this. Instead, it prohibits states from regulating sports betting within their own borders, forcing them to maintain status quo and maintain often obsolete laws they had in 1992 when the Act was passed.
According to Papadopoulos, the Supreme Court has been very clear on these matters in many similar cases, where federal government tried to compel states to pass certain laws. The reason is that states must be allowed to pass their own laws the way they see fit, as this is one of the most important trademarks of the state’s sovereignty.
A good example of PASPA’s restrictive nature are Act’s effects on the booming New Jersey gambling market and state’s attempts to regulate sports betting. PASPA simply doesn’t leave enough room for the states to act in the accordance with newly created circumstances, such as those in the Garden State.
Failing at its core purpose
Apart from it being an attack of states’ sovereignties, PASPA also fails in its very core purpose – protecting problem gamblers and preserving the integrity of sports.
The only thing it has achieved is the blooming underground sports betting market, which lacks any resemblance of the regulation. According to the American Gaming Association, Americans place more than $150 billion in illegal bets every year.
Naturally, the practice of illegal sports betting is primarily concentrated around the biggest sporting events in the USA. During the 2017 Super Bowl, there was $15 billion in wagers, and some 97% of these bets were placed illegally.
The only reason why the black market can prosper in this way is because of PASPA, which opened the door for it. In Nevada, for example, where betting is legal and regulated, the demand for illegal bookmakers is practically nonexistent. So, as far as protecting players goes, the Act fails completely.
Broader social damage
It is not just that PASPA helps the growth of black market and fails to protect the players. Funds acquired through illegal betting activities are often used to fund organized crime activities like drug and human trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering.
Finally, PASPA also fails in another important element, which is protecting sporting events. In regulated betting markets, irregular betting partners and other shady activities are easily noticed. In the black market atmosphere, it is basically impossible to notice such activities, and when discoveries are made, it is usually just by chance.
The time for the change has come, and New Jersey will be taking its case to the Supreme Court next year, looking to circumvent PASPA and pass the betting law within the state borders. If they are successful, more US states will certainly follow the pattern, and PASPA will slowly become a thing of the past.
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