It feels as though it’s only a matter of time until online sports wagering is legal in the United States, and a bill introduced on Thursday in the House of Representatives might be a crucial step in that process.
It’s called the GAME Act (Congress does love pithy acronyms, don’t they?), and it was released by the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee. (It’s the Commerce part that’s applicable, if you were curious.) The main focus of the bill would essentially be the removal of the federal government’s ban on online gambling, which would then leave it up to the states to decide for themselves, essentially.
ESPN’s David Purdum broke it down thusly:
Section 8 of the GAME Act would repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), the federal prohibition on state-sponsored sports betting.
Sports betting is legal in only a handful of states, with only Nevada allowed to offer a full wagering menu. Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey are the only states that allow online gambling. Legislation is advancing in Pennsylvania to legalize online gambling, as well.
It’s more of a states’ rights issue, and this bill would essentially remove the federal government from the equation, while still leaving a few protections and oversights in place via the FTC. Essentially, the bill is recognizing that despite that PASPA legislation from 1992, Americans are still wagering on sports, and doing so online, just illegally. It’s an effort to modernize the law to catch up with society. Similar to marijuana usage, in a way, although that does technically remain federally illegal.
So how soon might we see legal online gambling? Well, there’s plenty of ongoing courtroom discussion, and beyond that, an advocate for the cause sounds pretty confident it will be sooner rather than later:
“President Trump will have sports betting legislation on his desk during his term,” American Gaming Association president and CEO Geoff Freeman has said.
That would be a refreshingly quick timeline for the government to accomplish anything, but if you’re going to push for this kind of legislation, it might make sense to do it when the President is a former casino mogul.