True to his word, Senator Orrin Hatch has produced a new draft bill that would, if enacted, prevent states from pursuing legalized sports betting without first seeking approval at federal level. In essence, and in the wording of the bill, states would be required to “…request approval to administer a state sports wagering program, a state shall submit an application to the Attorney General at such time, in such manner, and accompanied by such information as the Attorney General may require”.
Hatch’s bill also proposes two new federal bodies, a National Sports Wagering Clearing House and National Sports Wagering Commission. The former will be tasked, inter alia, with collecting data relating to sports betting activity and maintaining a self-exclusion list. The bill does not contain detail pertaining to the responsibilities of the wagering commission.
“All forms of gaming have historically been regulated at the State level, and legal sports wagering markets are and should be established and regulated principally by the States, but sports wagering affects interstate commerce more than most other forms of gaming,” the bill outlines.
It adds: “While each State may decide whether to permit sports wagering and how to regulate sports wagering, there is an important role for Congress in setting minimum standards for sports wagering that affects interstate commerce and providing law enforcement with additional authority to target the illegal sports wagering market and bad actors in the growing legal sports wagering market.”
Hatch has also tackled the controversial issue of the Wire Act, recommending that it should be amended to facilitate interstate compacts. His bill advises: “Each sports wagering opt-in State and each Indian Tribe located in each such State may enter into such interstate sports wagering compact as may be necessary to provide for sports wagering on an interactive sports wagering platform between and among individuals located in any State or within the jurisdiction of any Indian Tribe that is party to such compact.”
While Hatch may be committed to slowing and even halting what he believes to be a race to the bottom, his bill could actually have the effect of accelerating state moves to legalize sports betting. Getting it onto the statute books, even assuming there’s political appetite for such a move, is going to take a long time. Long enough for those states considering establishing sports betting to push legislation through sooner and argue for grandfather rights later.