Sports Betting Letters To House Committee Reveal Additional Perspectives

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When the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations met last week to discuss a post-PASPA world, it mostly heard from stakeholders who would like to see sports betting regulated at the federal level.

Now, several other concerned groups have sent letters to the same committee imploring Congress to leave sports betting to the states. Their reasons behind this argument basically broke down into two camps.

The law enforcement groups argued for effectiveness

Two of the letters came from groups that represent law enforcement officials. Both letters supported states making their own decisions about sports betting due to the greater effectiveness of local enforcement.

The Major County Sheriffs of America wrote to say that bringing sports betting into the realm of legality would help to solve both primary and secondary crime. The letter’s author, Sheriff Michael Bouchard of Oakland County, Michigan, also decried integrity fees as “neither practical nor appropriate,” since their presence diverts valuable resources from law enforcement into for-profit businesses with no experience executing regulation of laws.

The National Fraternal Order of Police concurred with this opinion and declared the removal of PASPA to be a public safety issue more than anything else. National President Chuck Canterbury concluded that the end of the illegal sports betting market should be the main focus of law enforcement around this issue, since it is clear that the vast majority of sports bets occur in unregulated environments.

The advocacy groups argued for states’ rights

Four other letters came from groups with different agendas but a similar take on the issue. More or less, the groups argued that the striking of PASPA represented a rightful return of power to the states.

Three of these groups seemed to come from the same school of fiscal policy. The Americans for Tax Reform, the American Conservative Union, and Consumer Action for a Strong Economy (CASE) applauded PASPA’s fall for its opportunities to generate revenue state and local governments.

Furthermore, they said, each state has a fundamental right to determine its own course with regard to sports betting. Heavy-handed oversight not only creates the potential for unintended black market activity, but also flies in the face of the spirit of the Constitution.

The other letter, from the National Conference of State Legislatures, concurred with this second bit, and said that allowing states to decide would increase voter engagement and determinism. Executive Director William Pound also laid perhaps the harshest criticism of PASPA to date, saying that the defunct law “exemplified the failings of a one-size-fits-all federal solution to complex questions of policy, regulation and law enforcement.”

Everyone’s just talking right now

Last week’s hearing has no follow-up scheduled, and there is no bill or action planned in its wake. Whether the arguments from the meeting or in these letters will make much difference remains to be seen.

However, what is important is the airing of multiple opinions. Hundreds of millions have already been wagered in places like New Jersey. So, lawmakers need more perspectives than simply arguments that call for a replacement to the dearly-departed PASPA.

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.