Congress Schedules, Then Postpones Sports Betting Hearing

Posted on June 20, 2018

Congress scheduled a hearing on legal sports betting next week, only to cancel hours after posting notice of it.

A long-rumored hearing in the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations appeared Tuesday on the docket. By Wednesday morning, the subcommittee announced that the meeting entitled “Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America” was postponed.

The subcommittee operates under the House Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Bob Goodlatte. No rescheduled date was announced.

ESPN’s David Purdum reports that the delay stems from “unrelated policy issues.” Congress could be occupied with immigration or healthcare, based upon recent news.

How Congress became involved

The hearing comes weeks after the Supreme Court repealed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the federal law that banned single-game sports betting outside Nevada.

Within that decision, the justices left open the possibility that Congress could create a new law to govern sports betting. They also wrote that if Congress does not act, states are free to enact their own sports betting laws.

In the time since the repeal, Delaware and New Jersey both activated sports betting. New Jersey passed a new law last week and Monmouth Park opened a William Hill-branded sports book. Delaware actually started a few days before New Jersey by opening under existing law via the state’s lottery.

Rhode Island could give the green light to sports betting this week at its state legislature. It would join a handful of states that passed laws governing sports betting over the past 12 months in anticipation of PASPA’s fall.

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What might come next in Congress

Beyond the “examination” mentioned in the title, the hearing’s purpose is somewhat unclear. House members have been quiet in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.

The only significant chatter came from the Senate, where legal sports betting opponent Orrin Hatch said he would introduce legislation creating a federal sports betting framework. To date, Hatch has not put forward any new sports betting bills.

It appears much more likely that Congress will not take action anytime soon, allowing states to continue on their current paths. That is the preference of the American Gaming Association and many within the industry.

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Adam Candee

Adam Candee is a veteran of covering sports business and news in Las Vegas. Adam arrived in Las Vegas in 1989, and is a former editor and reporter at the Las Vegas Sun and KLAS-TV.

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