The US casino industry’s main lobby group plans to pursue a “rational alternative” to the country’s current sports betting prohibition.
On Wednesday, the board of directors of the American Gaming Association (AGA) announced that its board of directors had undertaken “a major shift in the industry’s approach to sports betting.”
The 1992 federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) restricted single-game sports betting to the state of Nevada, while allowing bastardized parlay-type sports betting lotteries in Delaware, Montana and Oregon. New Jersey has led a spirited multi-year legal fight to overturn PASPA, and while its efforts have to date fallen short, momentum appears to be swinging in favor of the Garden State.
Perhaps this is what has spurred the AGA to promise to build “a broad coalition that will determine whether a rational alternative to current sports betting law exists.” Um, yes, it’s the same alternative reality that exists in Nevada, where most AGA members conduct brick-and-mortar casino operations, many of which include legal sportsbooks.
Beginning next year, the AGA says it will solicit input from industry leaders, law enforcement, regulators, politicians and pro sports leagues. The AGA has already determined that its recommendations will likely include “strict regulation, rigorous consumer protections and robust tools for law enforcement to eliminate illegal sports betting and strengthen the integrity of games.”
AGA CEO Geoff Freeman said the casino industry was convinced “the status quo is unsustainable,” while AGA chairman and MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren claimed that “unregulated and illegal sports betting is a threat to consumers and the sports we enjoy.” Murren expressed confidence that Las Vegas casinos can withstand the potential downside of the rest of the country joining Nevada in the sports betting business.
In January, the AGA declared that the current betting prohibition was “clearly failing” in its stated aim of stamping out illegal betting. Wednesday’s announcement came just one day after the AGA announced it would help combat illegal sports betting by actively promoting the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s online crime snitch line.
As for the increasingly thorny question regarding the legality of daily fantasy sports – which Nevada regulators recently declared was no different from sports betting – the AGA said the industry was seeking “legal clarity and adequate consumer protections.” The AGA also wants the ability to “participate and partner” with DFS providers, provided they’re not all in jail by next year.