Leading the Charge

AGA files amicus brief in support of New Jersey’s sports betting challenge

Leading the Charge

In the coming weeks, the United States Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) is constitutional. As I have said repeatedly over the last year, America’s 25-year-old failing federal ban on sports betting is not working. PASPA is doing nothing to stop millions of Americans from wagering on sports each and every day.

Americans continue to bet on sports, but, thanks to PASPA, most of that betting occurs illegally. The AGA conservatively estimates that Americans illegally bet over $150 billion per year on U.S. sporting events. Earlier this year, Americans bet an estimated $15 billion on the Super Bowl and NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament alone, and 97 percent of those bets were made illegally.

That’s why the American Gaming Association in September filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of the state of New Jersey’s challenge to an outdated, failed law.

AGA, its member companies and its allies have been working tirelessly to make the case that the time is right for a legal, regulated sports betting market that offers a safe, consumer-friendly marketplace for sports fans to wager on the games and teams they follow.

Most recently, we helped launch the American Sports Betting Coalition—bringing together state and local elected officials, regulators, law enforcement leaders, think tanks and third parties, academics and experts, gaming industry leaders, allies and fans.

This coalition includes the likes of law enforcement groups such as the Fraternal Order of Police, National District Attorneys Association and Major County Sheriffs of America, and notable leaders in their field like former FBI Deputy Director Tim Murphy and former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis. It has the support of international entities like the International Centre for Sport Security and European Casino Association and think tanks like Competitive Enterprise Institute and other third parties.

The coalition reflects the growing public support for sports betting. A strong majority of American voters want to end the federal sports betting ban—and that’s true regardless of political party, income, education, race or region of the country.

Doing so could generate vital tax revenues for states and create jobs. Research from Oxford Economics estimates legal, regulated sports betting could support up to 152,000 American jobs and generate $5 billion in tax revenues.

State legislatures are beginning to hear the message. Currently, 14 states have already introduced sports betting bills or resolutions in anticipation of legal sports betting that could be coming soon.

In addition, 19 other states have joined West Virginia in filing a separate amicus brief to the court. This group of bipartisan states includes representation from every corner of the country, from states with and without gaming, and includes signees from state AG’s offices as well as governor’s offices. It also includes the president of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), both co-chairs of the NAAG Gaming Committee, and chair of the Conference of Western Attorneys General.

We want to empower states and tribal sovereign governments by giving them the opportunity to decide whether to legalize and regulate sports betting, just as they have done for years with casinos, lotteries and other forms of gaming.

With 21st century tools now at our disposal, we have the ability to monitor sports betting in real time, assuring the integrity of major sports leagues remains unaffected. Combining this technology with a regulated market will empower law enforcement, will give regulators transparent oversight, and will protect consumers.

We look forward to the Supreme Court hearing this case and trust that, based on the legal merits and PASPA’s unmitigated failure, we will have legal sports betting in the United States very soon.

Geoff Freeman
Geoff Freeman is President & CEO of the American Gaming Association. Follow Geoff Freeman on Twitter: @GeoffFreemanAGA.

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