The Fraternal Order of Police is the world’s largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers, with more than 330,000 members in more than 2,200 lodges. Our members are the voice of those who dedicate their lives to protecting and serving our communities. The FOP mission is to protect and serve the public nationwide.
Recently, we announced that the FOP would join the advisory council of the American Sports Betting Coalition (ASBC) to show our support for ending the 25-year-old ban on sports wagering in the United States. While well-intentioned, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) has failed to stem the tide of sports betting, and has instead encouraged an explosion in illegal, unregulated wagering. This illegal sports betting marketplace fuels criminal enterprises, hides money laundering and facilitates other illegal activities.
The facts are clear—the American Gaming Association conservatively estimates that Americans illegally wager $150 billion on U.S. sports each year. Other studies show that number could be as high as $500 billion worldwide each year. During Super Bowl LI this year, Americans wagered $4.7 billion, and only 3 percent of these bets were placed legally. During the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this year, it is estimated that $10.4 billion in wagers were made, only $295 million of which were legal.
It’s clear PASPA is not working. Simply put, the ban has not stopped fans from betting on sports—it’s just driven it underground. Today, millions of Americans bet on sports through a massive illegal market that operates outside the reach of law enforcement with no regulatory oversight, no means of protecting the integrity of the games and no safeguards for consumers. Ending PASPA would bring sports betting out of the shadows, making it easier for law enforcement to protect the public and stop money flowing into criminal organizations.
As we approach the 25th anniversary of PASPA, we urge Congress to recognize that the current approach is not working. Congress should allow states to work with law enforcement and other stakeholders to create a legal, regulated marketplace. This will give consumers what they want and allow law enforcement to protect the public and stop the flow of illegal money into criminal organizations. Let’s stop it now.