Legal Online Sports Betting

Senator McCain Calls for Legal Sports Betting

With billions of dollars being illegally wagered on events like the Super Bowl, Arizona Senator John McCain has requested congressional hearings on the subject of expanding sports betting, which is now primarily limited to the state of Nevada. Clearly money is being spent by US residents on this type of entertainment, with a lot of that money going to legal football betting sites that are located outside of the US.

McCain, who is a Republican, stated that he supports sports betting in states that already have legalized gambling. This would also extend to the Indian tribes that run casino operations. The senator does not support US based Internet gambling. He said there is need for congressional debate and opinion from the public to determine where the country stands on the issue. When McCain was asked why Nevada has a stronghold on sports betting, he said that was the point that invites further discussion, as it only seems fair to allow sports betting where legal gambling is already in place. At this time, the majority of Americans bet on sports through licensed, regulated and legal online sports betting sites located outside of the US.

The American Gaming Association (AGA) estimates that a total of $3.8 billion (including illegal wagers) was bet on Super Bowl XLXI, recently played in Glendale, Arizona. This number is 38 times higher than the amount that would have been legally bet. Currently, gambling is legal in 48 states and Washington, D.C. and disallowed in Hawaii and Utah.

Geoff Freeman, president of the AGA, stated the data from the Super Bowl makes it clear that current sports betting laws are not effective. In the wake of Senator McCain's request, AGA members are considering giving legal gamblers extended options for betting. Freeman also said from the perspective of casinos, the correct solution is not entirely clear, and the issue will continue to be discussed internally.

Sports gambling in Nevada brought in $227 million in 2014, a new record and a 12 percent increase over the previous year. Nevada, along with Oregon, Montana and Delaware, was part of a grandfather deal in the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which allowed all four states to continue with sports betting. Delaware has a limited form of parlay betting on the NFL.

While sports betting may eventually become a congressional conversation, many people doubt there would be an immediate solution. Freeman said that even if Congress takes no action in the near future, the fact the discussion is happening at all is a good thing.

McCain is not alone in wanting an expansion on sports gambling. Adam Silver, commissioner of the NBA, has also said he favors expanded sports betting in states other than Nevada. Silver was the first commissioner of any professional sports league requesting a change in the law.

The debate about legal sports betting comes at a time when Congress is once again considering the issue of Internet gambling, which could have a ripple effect on sports wagering. There is a concern, especially with Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz and nominee for Attorney General Loretta Lynch, that Internet gambling could have a negative impact on the casino industry. Currently, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware allow gambling through the web, and none as of yet have experienced any significant casino downturn.

Adam Silver , the current NBA Commissioner, told ESPN there is obviously a large interest in sports betting in America, and it would be beneficial to make it transparent and bring it into the light. Silver joins with David Stern, the previous NBA Commissioner who openly supports legal sports betting.

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