Bill Miller, the CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA) and one of the most prominent lobbyists for the gaming industry, argued in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week that the federal government need not worry over the nascent sports betting industry cropping up across different states.
Miller stated any regulation for the industry could come directly from the respective state governments as well as Indian gaming tribes, who he said have both had a long history of success in regulating gaming markets.
Miller said that sports betting is currently being enacted across the US with the same standards that commercial and tribal casinos have operated with for decades. Sports bets have age restrictions, licensing processes, and record-keeping requirements, similar to casinos.
Hearing Primarily Focused on College Sports
The two-hour hearing was attended by just five senators. Its primary purpose was to dig into issues related to college sports to determine the need for federal legislation that guarantees student-athletes’ right to profit off their name, image, and likeness while involved in college athletics.
Miller was joined by one other witness, the University of Pittsburgh’s Athletic Director, Heather Lyke. Lyke said that her school as well as the Atlantic Coast Conference were united in opposing any bets being made on college sports. She argued that sports betting should be confined to just professional sports, stating that a number of states with legal sports betting markets recognize the potential harms of the practice and ban bets on in-state college teams.
The committee ultimately made no recommendations. Its chairman, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R—S.C.) appeared to indicate that no action will be taken by the Senate on this matter in 2020.
Legal sports betting is available in 18 states as well as Washington D.C. Four more states are expected to finish drafting regulations and have their own industry in place by the end of the year.
Miller Suggests Lawmakers Repeal Federal Excise Tax on Sports Bets
Miller contended that Congress would be better served by crafting laws that target aspects of sports betting, such as increasing federal penalties for match-fixing and removing the federal excise tax on sports bets, which Miller said inadvertently rewards black market sportsbooks.
Before COVID-19, the industry seemed ready to log a record-breaking year. In 2019, Americans spent $13 billion on legal sports wagers. It looked like 2020 would easily surpass this figure, with a $3.5 billion take for January and February. However, the suspension of mainstream sports leagues, coupled with the closure of casinos and sportsbooks has changed things significantly.