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Romney in discussions for federal sports betting bill


US Senator for Utah and former presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been involved in preliminary discussions about a federal sports gambling bill, a member of Romney’s staff told iGB North America.

Romney is working with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York on a bill that is expected to be similar to the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act.

That bill was co-sponsored by Schumer and now-retired Utah Senator Orrin Hatch (who has been replaced in the Senate by Romney). It was introduced in December 2018 but was not assigned to a committee.

The 2018 bill, S.3793, established a general prohibition on sports wagering, but allowed states to submit applications to the Department of Justice to develop their own regulatory framework, provided they adhered to a set of minimum standards.

While S.3793 did not propose sports betting operators pay integrity fees to the professional leagues, it did mandate the use of official league data for betting purposes. The National Sports Wagering Clearinghouse would also be established as the central sports integrity monitoring body for the US, funded by the 0.25% federal excise tax on sports betting handle.

States would have been permitted to legalize online and in-play wagering under S.3793, though betting on amateur sports would be banned, with exceptions for the Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, Pan-American Games and certain intercollegiate sports.

ESPN reports that the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) is supportive of the federal bill, suggesting that the intercollegiate exception in Hatch’s previous bill would be removed.

With a number of states having already passed sports betting legislation and launched legal wagering, it remains to be seen whether the federal proposal gains traction.

However, in the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018, it said that a federal law to govern sports betting would not be unconstitutional.