On Wednesday, December 19, 2018, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Chuck Schumer (D-New York) formally introduced the legislation that they had previously released in draft form, as predicted in our prior Locke Lord Quick Study, “Draft Legislation Signals Potential Federal Oversight Over Nascent Sports Betting Industry.”
The bi-partisan legislation, titled, the “Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018,” is substantially the same as the draft version, but has been revised in parts, mostly for clarity or to add further detail. The legislation now includes an 18-month delay to the provisions rendering sports wagering unlawful unless carried out in accordance with the Act. This would allow states more time to seek approval of their sports betting programs from the Attorney General’s Office. A section also was added to address sports wagering by Indian tribes under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
The legislation likely will be stalled for the remainder of this year and will be re-introduced in the next Congress. In a press release, Sen. Hatch and Sen. Schumer pitched the legislation as upholding the integrity of sports wagering and the underlying sporting events themselves. As Sen. Hatch is retiring at the end of this year, Sen. Schumer stated that he “will strongly advocate for this bill to move forward and for Congress to vote to pass federal legislation very soon.” Thus far, the National Football League, National Collegiate Athletic Association, and the National Council on Problem Gambling have spoken up in support of the legislation. However, as discussed in the prior Quick Study, other key players, including the American Gaming Association, are opposed to federal oversight where regulation of gaming has traditionally been left to the states.
Our Federal Public Law and Policy group will be tracking this legislation closely and is available to provide insight and guidance.