Pallone Introduces GAME Act as Possible PASPA Repeal Vehicle

This week, in a move timed to take advantage of interest in the US Supreme Court’s hearing of oral arguments in the prominent “Christie II” case regarding New Jersey’s hoped-for legalization of sports betting, US Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) has introduced his GAME Act as a vehicle for the federal-level repeal of PASPA, the quarter-century-old that continues to throttle legal sports betting throughout the US.

CongressPallone had been shopping the rough text of the GAME Act — more formerly known as the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act — for roughly six months before his opportunistic submission of the bill this week. The 26-page bill has already been assigned to two House of Representatives committees for initial consideration, the House Energy and Commerce Community (on which Pallone sits as the ranking minority member) and the House Judiciary Committee.

The bill has been given the formal nomenclature of HR 4530. It shows Pallone as the primary sponsor, with no co-sponsors on board as of yet.

Pallone has been perhaps the most active US Representative in recent years on the topic of sports-betting legalization. The GAME Act, or HR 4530, is just the latest of several efforts. For now, it’s a prospective bill, designed to serve as a pro-gambling alternative in Washington D.C., should PASPA survive the legal challenge mounted against it in the Christie II case. Because of the bill’s prospective nature, it’s unlikely to receive full committee consideration before the US Supreme Court rules in the “Christie II” appeal.

Pallone’s GAME Act, should it become law, would strike PASPA from the federal books via a full repeal while leaving most other federal gambling laws intact. Among those to be preserved would be the 1978 Interstate Horse Racing Act (a carveout added to the 1961 Wire Act), the 1970 Illegal Gambling Business Act, and the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. HR 4530 also specifies that both state law and tribal-state compacts would be unaffected by the bill, and by extension, from other federal reach

Pallone’s GAME Act would nullify the 1961 Wire Act and the 2006 UIGEA in a slightly different way, by simply stating that a person or entity acting in accordance with a state’s law regarding gambling matters would not be liable under federal law. It would thus prevent the US’s federal government from trying to continue the de facto commandeering of states’ rights currently occurring under PASPA. That commandeering problem is the crux of the “Christie II” dispute.

As a statement from Pallone’s office notes, the GAME Act is “intended to remove the federal obstacles to legalized gambling at the state level. It does not create a federal framework for gambling and instead allows states that choose to legalize and regulate sports betting and/or online gambling to do so.”

Pallone talked about both his pending introduction of the GAME Act and the important SCOTUS hearing about PASPA earlier this week. Said Pallone, “[The] argument before the Supreme Court showed there is a serious question as to whether PASPA violates the Constitution and whether New Jersey even violated PASPA in the first place. It is clear to me that PASPA is unconstitutional. I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will decide in New Jersey’s favor, and the GAME Act provides the necessary legal framework for states to move forward.”

He added, “The truth is that Americans are already betting up to $400 billion a year on sporting events, but it’s mostly taking place illegally and without consumer protections. It is time to update our laws and bring sports betting out of the shadows. The GAME Act will modernize sports betting regulations and ensure fairness for all states while maintaining transparency and consumer protections.”

Pallone’s GAME Act also includes language that would defer to the states the question of wagering on fantasy sports or e-sports, in addition to more traditional sports-betting forms.

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