Senator Orrin Hatch

Senator Orrin Hatch to Introduce Sports Betting Regulatory Bill

United States Senator Orrin Hatch (R – Utah), an old man who is scared of things, has said that he will introduce a bill in the Senate to regulate sports betting on the federal level. This comes after Monday’s 6-3 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), allowing states to go ahead and legalize sports betting within their borders.

Sen. Hatch, though he is retiring, has a pony in this race: himself. Hatch was one of the original authors of PASPA and probably still wants a say in the legality of sports gambling in the United States. The elimination of PASPA deletes a part of his legacy.

Hatch released the following statement on his Congressional website:

The problems posed by sports betting are much the same as they were 25 years ago. But the rapid rise of the Internet means that sports betting across state lines is now just a click away. We cannot allow this practice to proliferate amid uneven enforcement and a patchwork race to the regulatory bottom. At stake here is the very integrity of sports. That’s why I plan to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to help protect honesty and principle in the athletic arena. I invite stakeholders and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in addressing this important issue.

Again, old man who is scared of things. The internet is scary, we get it. Click your mouse, lose your house. And by the way, Senator Hatch, sports betting across state lines in a properly regulated environment is not just a click away because the Wire Act forbids “interstate or foreign commerce of bets or wagers or information assisting in the placing of bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest.”

I would think Senator Hatch knows this and thinks geolocation either isn’t a thing or isn’t reliable, even though online gambling sites have shown it usually works really well.

But that’s besides the point. The obliteration of PASPA doesn’t mean interstate online sports betting is legal. States will be legalizing brick-and-mortar sports gambling and probably intrastate online/mobile sports betting like that which exists in Nevada.

That all said, Senator Hatch’s desire to see sports betting regulated federally isn’t necessarily bad. I, personally, would like to see online poker legalized on a national level, perhaps with the ability for states to opt-out. Thus, I wouldn’t really be opposed to sports betting going the same way, though the problem is that gambling decisions have been traditionally left to the states. His fear that there could be a race to the “regulatory bottom” is idiotic, though, as I can’t point to an example of states intentionally creating lax gambling regulations just to draw business.

Hatch’s statement also does not imply that his bill would look to make sports betting illegal. I do fear ridiculous regulations like a maximum bet of two dollars or no prop bets allowed, but we’ll see what happens.

Oddly, on the very same page as Senator Hatch’s statement is a statement from his “office”:
It will be up to each state to decide whether to legalize and sports gambling and how to regulate it. But given that sports betting activity can now be conducted across state lines via the Internet, Senator Hatch believes we need to ensure there are some federal standards in place to ensure that state regulatory frameworks aren’t a race to the bottom.

I don’t know what the point of that is. Did his personal assistant write it and just wanted to let everyone know that he has a point? It’s weird. I mean, isn’t Orrin Hatch’s “office” really just Orrin Hatch? Did he release two statements for emphasis? It’s like when someone leaves the room at the end of an argument and then comes back for the, “…AND ANOTHER THING…” except that this wasn’t another thing. It was the same thing, but shorter.

Hatch’s desire for federal sports gambling regulation is not a unique stance. In fact, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, the biggest proponent of legalized sports betting out of all the league head honchos, has said he would much prefer to see a standardized set of regulations nationally, rather than a state-by-state piecemeal approach.

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court opens the door for states to pass laws legalizing sports betting,” Silver said in a statement on Monday. “We remain in favor of a federal framework that would provide a uniform approach to sports gambling in states that choose to permit it, but we will remain active in ongoing discussions with state legislatures. Regardless of the particulars of any future sports betting law, the integrity of our game remains our highest priority.”

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