Rep. Frank Pallone Retracts GAME Act Federal Sports Betting Bill

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Congressman Frank Pallone has withdrawn his bill to create federal standards for sports betting, according to GamblingCompliance. The New Jersey Democrat revealed he no longer supported passage of the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement (GAME) Act during a speech on Sept. 12.

The GAME Act would have established federal standards for minimum consumer protection. States that complied with the law would gain the right to regulate sports betting and create interstate gaming networks.

For what it’s worth, the bill had only attracted a single cosponsor. However, Pallone remained committed to its passage until his statements on Wednesday, which he delivered to the National Congress of American Indians.

Pallone cited what he called the “tremendous success” of New Jersey sports betting and sportsbooks as the factor that changed his mind. He mentioned several revenue figures from the most recent state reports.

The withdrawal is particularly striking due to Pallone’s prominent position in Congress. He is a 15-term member of Congress, and potentially, he could become the chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee after the midterm elections in November.

Pallone’s motivation seems driven by principle, not politics

In that role, Pallone would have had the opportunity to push this bill through, support or not. However, the Congressman still seems miffed about the difficult path New Jersey had to take for legalization.

Furthermore, Pallone noted that major sports leagues have been lobbying Congress for federal regulation that would give the leagues integrity fees and control over the data. He suggested that the leagues were acting as opportunists, rather than in good faith.

Pallone’s objections and reversal are surprising due to the politics of the situation, taking a different turn than Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, another prominent Democrat.

Sports betting has enemies on both sides of the aisle

Schumer, a Democrat from New York, has pushed for a federal framework to oversee sports betting since late August. He proposed a federal framework that would mostly give the leagues what they want.

Schumer’s proposal came days after Sen. Orrin Hatch railed about the dangers of state-regulated sportsbooks from the floor of the US Senate. Hatch, a retiring Republican from Utah, is one of the co-authors of PASPA.

PASPA’s dismissal at the hands of the US Supreme Court touched off the wave of sports betting legalization in May 2018. So, Hatch’s comments come as no surprise.

However, sports betting proponents would be wise to remain vigilant. It does not bode well for sports betting that some federal lawmakers would like to control an industry they previously banned.

Bart Shirley

About

Bart Shirley is a writer and poker player from Houston, Texas. When he's not teaching high school math and business, Bart writes about the NJ online casino industry and US online poker. He has a master's degree in business administration from Texas Christian University and a degree in English from Texas A&M.