American Gaming Association

AGA Slags PASPA as US Sports-Betting Ban Turns 24

The American Gaming Association (AGA) has launched a frontal attack on the United States’ widely-despised Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the law pased in 1992 that prevents the vast majority of American citizens from legally wagering on sporting events, unlike citizens in most other parts of the developed Western world.

AGA LogoPASPA has increasingly come under attack from many quarters for its tacit protection of the huge grey-market sports betting market in the US, which the AGA asserts amounts to $150 billion annually in the US.  (That figure includes such activities as office pools and related activity.)  PASPA also continues to provide and enforce a Nevada-only monopoly in the US regarding the availability of single-event sports betting, while limited parlay wagering is available in three other states.

All of this activity was already in place in 1992, and was grandfathered in when PASPA became US law.

On Friday, PASPA officially reached its 24th anniversary as standing US law, and on Wednesday, the AGA sardonically issued a presser “honoring” its continuing presence.  The AGA’s presser, by way of wishing the law a not-so-happy birthday, listed 24 reasons why the unpopular PASPA is a bad law and should be abolished.

Per the AGA:

  1. Since PASPA’s inception, trillions of dollars have been wagered illegally on sports.
  2. Annually, PASPA has created a $150B illegal sports betting market.
  3. Of the $4.2 billion wagered on Super Bowl 50, nearly 97 percent was bet illegally.
  4. Money from the illegal sports betting market often fund other forms of illicit crime.
  5. Sports betting in the United Kingdom has become commonplace and is done in a legal regulated market.
  6. The thriving illegal market and lack of regulation create an atmosphere ripe for manipulation.
  7. The crime of illegal sports betting has brought together the law enforcement community to discuss ways to combat illegal sports betting.
  8. Leaders in law enforcement recommended that PASPA’s repeal would be an effective way to combat illegal sports betting.
  9. A record amount was wagered legally on Super Bowl 50 in Nevada.
  10. Even President Obama joined the 47 million Americans who’ve bet on the Super Bowl.
  11. For the first time in 16 years, Nevada sports books accepted bets on the Rio Olympics.
  12. State governments would stand to benefit from additional tax revenue that would come from legalized, regulated sports betting.
  13. Tax revenue from legalized, regulated sports betting could go to fund local communities, such as teacher salaries and infrastructure projects.
  14. Research shows that betting drives massive ratings for NFL games.
  15. Millions more viewers would bet on games if sports betting were legalized.
  16. Research shows that engagement with March Madness bracket sites drives viewership in the early rounds of the tournament.
  17. Sports bettors are highly valuable to advertisers, as they watch more TV programming for longer periods of time than non-bettors.
  18. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver wrote in a New York Times op-ed that he favors legalized, regulated sports betting.
  19. NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern said that he favors legal sports betting.
  20. In a sign that sports leagues and casinos can coexist, more than 80% of NFL teams play their home games within a one-hour drive of a casino.
  21. The NHL is expanding to Las Vegas, showing that pro sports leagues are increasingly comfortable with legal, regulated sports betting.
  22. Showing how sports betting and professional sports can coexist in a safe, regulated marketplace, Nevada’s legislature approved funding of a new stadium in Las Vegas.
  23. Legalized, regulated sports betting strengthens the integrity of games.
  24. 80% of Super Bowl viewers say it’s time to change sports betting law.

While a handful of the points are of the “So what?” variety, the large majority of the AGA’s talking points hone in on a single truth.  It’s one that PASPA’s most ardent backer, the National Football League, can’t stand to hear: Legalized sports betting improves the integrity of organized sports, rather than detracting from it.

Said Sara Rayme, the AGA’s senior vice president of public affairs, “Americans have shown an overwhelming desire to bet on sports.  The federal ban on sports betting has failed and AGA will continue to engage in thoughtful discussions with key stakeholders on how best to address this outdated law.”

The AGA, which is the casino and gambling industry’s largest lobbying group, also used the opportunity to promote a consumer-oriented website supporting legalized sports betting in the US.  That website is at www.sportsbettinginamerica.com/.  Opposition to PASPA also gives the lobbying group a chance to project a unified front.  The above talking points never mention the word “online” specifically, and the association nearly collapsed a couple of years ago due to the adamant opposition to online gambling of primary AGA benefactor Las Vegas Sands Group and its chairman, Sheldon Adelson.  A large majority of AGA member companies strongly support online gambling but have been stymied in their efforts to have the AGA officially support that position.

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