US Senators Writing Federal Sports Betting Legislation, NCAA Weighs In

  • Early-stage legislation reportedly like 2018 sports betting bill
  • NCAA previously wanted wagering prohibited on college sports
  • College carve-out would likely face legal challenges
  • Potential requirement to use official league data would face opposition
sports betting hall setup
Two U.S. senators are currently writing a bill to regulate sports betting nationwide. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Bi-partisan sports betting legislation

According to multiple media outlets, United States Senators Chuck Schumer (D – New York) and Mitt Romney (R – Utah) are working on a federal sports bill. The bill is in its early stages, and it is unknown when it will be introduced.

The legislation is reportedly similar to the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018, a sports gambling bill that Senator Schumer and now-retired Senator Orrin Hatch (R – Utah) introduced in December. Romney holds the seat that Hatch vacated.

NCAA wants carve-out

In his bill report on Tuesday, ESPN’s David Purdum wrote that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) wants a complete ban on collegiate sports betting in any upcoming federal bill. However, there is no indication that this will necessarily happen. The December 2018 bill did not have any prohibition of the sort included.

None of the states that have legalized sports betting have barred wagering on college sports. Some prohibit betting on games involving in-state schools and those that take place at in-state venues.

fairly daunting to think that every state would have a different set of regulations

NCAA Vice President of Hearing Operations Naima Stevenson Starks told ESPN that her organization is in favor of federal sports betting regulations.

“It’s fairly daunting to think that every state would have a different set of regulations,” she said. “Having some minimum standards, we are very supportive of and have been an active proponent of.”

College betting ban “challenging”

Purdum noted that before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned PASPA in May 2018 – the ruling which opened the doors to legalized sports betting – NCAA President Mark Emmert said he wanted betting on college sports to be banned.

Starks, though, said that while the NCAA would be in favor of such a prohibition in federal legislation, it would be difficult to pull off. The problem would be that collegiate sports betting would have to be banned nationwide, including in states that already allow it.

while the NCAA would be in favor of such a prohibition in federal legislation, it would be difficult to pull off

“The Supreme Court, in its decision, has made it somewhat challenging for a complete carve-out on college athletics to not be something that would be legally challenged at the end of the day,” she told ESPN.

League data mandate controversial

One of the major objections to the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018 was a mandate that sportsbooks use official statistical data from the sports leagues through to 2024. Courts have ruled that leagues do not have copyright protection or property ownership of game data. Gaming advocates argue that including such a requirement in a bill would effectively give leagues ownership of statistics.

After the December bill was introduced, Sara Slane, the American Gaming Association’s senior vice president of public affairs, criticized it. She said, “This bill is the epitome of a solution in search of a problem, representing an unprecedented and inappropriate expansion of federal involvement in the gaming industry, which is currently one of the most strictly regulated in the country.”

Slane added that the use of official league data should be negotiated by the leagues, other data providers, and sportsbooks, along with state regulatory agencies. She maintained that the states were doing just fine with regulations themselves, without any need for the involvement of the federal government.