Senators Chuck Schumer, Orrin Hatch to Introduce Federal Sports Gambling Bill

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2018

Sheila Kelly, left, looks over her wager as she joins in with the first group of patrons to Rivers Casino to bet on sports as the new, temporary sports betting area opens on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018, in Pittsburgh. Pending Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approval, regular operations are scheduled to begin Saturday, Dec. 15. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer and Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch are set to introduce the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018, a bipartisan congressional bill aimed to give the federal government regulatory power on sports betting.

Wayne Parry of the Associated Press reported the update Wednesday and noted the federal standards would not include "integrity fees," which sports leagues have suggested to obtain a portion of gambling revenues.

"As a lifelong sports fan I treasure the purity of the game," Schumer said. "I knew that Congress had an obligation to ensure that the integrity of the games we love was never compromised [after the Supreme Court ruling]. That is why I believe the time is now to establish a strong national integrity standard for sports betting that will protect consumers and the games themselves from corruption." 

In May, the Supreme Court voted down a 1992 federal law restricting sports betting. Eight states have so far passed laws allowing for legalized sports betting—Delaware, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia.

Hatch said he quickly "began working with stakeholders to ensure we were doing everything possible to protect the integrity of sports from corruption," per Parry.

"The legislation we've introduced today is the culmination of eight months of high-level meetings, discussions and negotiations, and will serve as a placeholder for the next Congress, should they decide to continue working to address these issues," he said.

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On Monday, the Sports Business Journal ranked "The American Sports Gambler" as the most influential person in sports business for 2018 as a result of the changes.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in April the league expected to receive compensation once widespread sports betting became legal.

"We've joined the fray and sort of gone out there, and we have a position," he said on ESPN's Get Up. "We think we should be compensated in certain ways for the additional costs we're going to incur through various integrity measures."

Along with professional sports, the bill also covers the Olympics and college athletics, but would ban wagers on other amateur competitions.

Schumer said he expects Congress will pass the bill "very soon."