As online poker becomes more and more a national issue, rumblings on Capitol Hill indicate a federal online poker bill may be added during the lame duck session in November. After all, in December of 2011, the federal government changed their definition of The Wire Act, and made it clear to state legislatures that it only applies to sports betting, clearing the way for intra state online poker bills. With federal online poker regulation almost becoming a certainty within the next few years – where does that leave sports bettors?
Sports betting will probably never be regulated federally and surely not anytime soon. Only four states currently allow sports betting, and Nevada is the only state where bettors can wager on individual sporting events. In 1992, Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which banned sports betting in all states except those that allowed it in some form. The other three states that had some sort of sports betting were Oregon, Montana and Delaware.
Of course other exceptions online allow for websites like TheSportsGeek.com to promote special types of sports picks news like “The Sports Geek Picks” for anything related to sports wagering. Unfortunately, most citizens can’t even download sportsbooks online to bet on games yet due to intense federal regulations in most states.
As America is in still in the thralls of an economic recession, more states are looking to legalize sports betting within their state. New Jersey voted 2 to 1 on a referendum to allow sports betting. Governor Chris Christie signed the bill into law earlier in 2012, and New Jersey is now allowed to legally offer sports betting. Local casino operators praised Christie but are worried about the Federal Government’s interference.
Casino operators fear they could spend millions setting up shop, for the federal government to come in and shut them down, and make some arrests in the process. It is a scary premise for some casino operators, who also may jeopardize their licenses in other states if the Feds plan to crack down on sports betting in New Jersey.
Delaware recently legalized online gambling within their state, and is allowing citizens to play casino games, purchase lottery tickets, and perhaps allow remote betting on sporting events.
As more cash strapped states recognize the revenue that is available for legalizing sports betting, how many will go against the Federal laws and begin to operate state wide sportsbooks. According to iMEGA, The Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association, sports betting is a $380 million market in the United States. Most of this money goes to offshore sportsbooks or illegal local bookmakers.
One must wonder why the federal government doesn’t take action to regulate the market, bring in millions in taxes and create tens of thousands of jobs? Making it legal nationwide would eliminate the criminal element, and a regulated market would add integrity to the major sporting leagues. The prohibition of sports betting by the Federal Government has not worked, a protected and regulated market would solve current problems and add hundreds of millions to the US economy.
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