05/25/2017 4:37PM

N.J. congressman drafts bill seeking end to sports-betting prohibition

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A U.S. congressman from New Jersey has released a draft of a bill that would repeal a federal prohibition covering most types of sports betting and allow states to decide whether to allow gambling on sports within their borders.

Rep. Frank Pallone, a Democrat, released the draft Thursday as a trial balloon to gauge interest in a rollback of the federal prohibitions, which are largely contained in the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act passed in 1992. By repealing PASPA, the bill would allow states to legalize wagering on sports, opening the door to the establishment of operations that could take wagers from residents of any states that approved sports betting.

The draft bill offers a broad, 211-word definition of a bet: “the staking or risking by any person of something of value, including virtual currency and actual or virtual items that can be sold or otherwise exchanged for cash at the gaming facility or elsewhere, upon the outcome of a contest of others, a sporting event, a game subject to change, or a game in which the outcomes reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants, upon an agreement or understanding that the person or another person will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome.”

New Jersey has repeatedly attempted to skirt the federal prohibition on sports gambling and is currently awaiting a decision from the Supreme Court on whether it will review the state’s appeal on the issue.  The measure has been pushed by Atlantic City’s casino industry, which is looking for new sources of revenue, as well as the operators of Monmouth Park.

While the NCAA and the NFL remain publicly opposed to the expansion of sports wagering, top officials of other major sports leagues, such as the NBA, have suggested that they would be open to the removal of federal prohibitions. The American Gaming Association, a lobbying group representing casinos, is also aggressively pushing for the federal prohibitions to be lifted.

Pallone is the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He convened a hearing of the committee last year to examine gambling issues surrounding pay-to-play fantasy-sports contests.