US Senator Orrin Hatch has vowed (again) to introduce federal sports betting legislation before his nearly 42-year run in the Senate concludes at the end of the current term.
On Thursday, Hatch (R-UT) gave a speech on the Senate floor in which he decried the state-level sports betting legislative “race to the bottom” that has transpired since the US Supreme Court struck down the federal betting prohibition in May.
Hatch, who was one of the authors of that unconstitutional prohibition, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), said America required “a set of fundamental, federal standards that will protect the integrity of the games, that will protect consumers and the sports wagering market.”
Hatch ruefully noted that sports betting discussion has been “conspicuously absent” from federal dialogue following the Court ruling. The House of Representatives judiciary committee had scheduled a hearing on sports betting but this hearing was postponed for unknown reasons, much to Hatch’s dismay.
Hatch is equally dismayed with the state-level betting legislation enacted following PASPA’s demise. Hatch singled out West Virginia’s legislation as lacking the necessary tools to ensure game integrity, that perennial bugaboo that the major leagues have been flogging in an effort to claim a proprietary chunk of betting handle.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) issued a statement Friday reminding US politicians that “federal oversight of sports betting was an abject failure” and suggested that the current situation be left alone and leave individual states to “decide what works best for their constituents.”
At the time of the Court ruling, Hatch vowed to introduce betting legislation, and it’s worth noting that his bill has still yet to see the light of day. The Court found PASPA to be an unconstitutional incursion into states’ rights, and Republicans don’t appear all that eager to impose a similar top-down solution so close to the November mid-term elections.
Time is also Hatch’s enemy, as the Senate will pause two weeks ahead of the November mid-term elections before returning for a brief ‘lame duck’ session after the vote.
Furthermore, Hatch has announced that he won’t seek re-election in November, drawing his four-plus decades in the Senate to a close. As such, Hatch’s fellow senators will have no blowback to fear in the next legislative session should they fail to get on board with Hatch’s plan.
Bottom line: Hatch’s legislation may yet see the light of day, but it will die of neglect.