Hatch Proposes Sports Betting Bill

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Outgoing Senator Orrin Hatch has put forward the draft of a new bill that would prevent any state in the US from regulating a sports betting market without gaining federal approval beforehand.

The wording of the bill indicates that in order to gain approval to regulate and administer a sports betting program within their own territory, a state has to apply to the Attorney General, submitting any evidence that the AG might require, to gain federal approval.

Hatch’s bill would also introduce two new federal bodies: the National Sports Wagering Clearing House and National Sports Wagering Commission. The Clearing House would have a number of responsibilities, including amassing data on sports betting activity and maintaining a self-exclusion list, though the bill does not outline what the Commission’s exact role would be.

The bill appears to be based on the principle that although gaming should be established and regulated by individual states, sports betting has an impact on interstate commerce to a greater degree than other forms of gambling, which means that Congress has a role in setting minimum standards and giving law enforcement agencies more powers to tackle illegal betting activity.

Hatch’s bill also takes on the controversies surrounding the Wire Act, which prohibits some forms of betting across the US, proposing that the Act should be amended to make it possible for sates and tribal authorities to agree sports betting ‘compacts’ that cross state lines .

The bill appears to be an attempt by lawmakers opposed to sports betting to limit the effects of the striking down of the PASPA Act by the Supreme Court in May. But while a majority of those in Congress are against sports betting, the bill is unlikely to enjoy a swift passage, and it is likely that by the time it goes through, many more states will have already introduced sports betting regulations, which could not be undone retrospectively.

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