May 18, 2018
States Should Ban Betting on Sports

This was a tough week for those of us who oppose expanding gambling in America.  The Supreme Court voted 7-2 to ban the 1992 law known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) because it violates the anti-commandeering rule of the U.S Constitution. All the conservative voices on the court joined with Justice Alito who explained that Congress can regulate sports gambling directly if it wants, BUT PASPA regulates state governments’ regulation of their citizens, and the Constitution gives Congress no such power. So the Supremes made their call from a strict interpretation of the Constitution, not considering the harm that will surely come with expanded gambling.

This change opens the door to legalized betting on sports in all states, not just Nevada. This could have sweeping consequences especially for the kids of America who love their sports.

Some years ago my grandson who loved the Philadelphia Eagles pled with me to take him to a game. I finally made a deal with him that we would go if half of the trip would be devoted to American history (Ben Franklin and the Liberty Bell, etc.) — and that it would cost him 2 birthdays and Christmas for 2 years!  We went and had a great time. Yes, kids and grandfathers alike love their sports!

Since 1992 there has been a protection of sorts by keeping the betting on sports confined to Nevada. Most of us don’t go there often enough to be confronted with the activity, but consider for a moment what it will be like when the hype they put together is in front of our eyes on an everyday basis.  Kids are mesmerized already with sports games on their smart phones and have become experts on all manner of video games.  They become very good at it.  I learned long ago to avoid any kind of challenge from my grands to a video game contest!

So, what happens when they find out they can swipe a credit card and play for real money.  And its not only our kids we’re concerned about, but all ages who love sports and think they can find an edge.  Its coming sooner than we think.  As they say, the train has left the station!

Some states saw this coming and are prepared with laws and regulations on the books to start up gambling on sports very quickly, both live and on line.  Others will be working feverishly to jump on the bandwagon as soon as they can.  And of course, the incentive is to capture some of that free money for the government to use.  Expect to see the usual morphing of the word “gambling” to “gaming” as states try to sugarcoat the language to make their plan more palatable.

So, its time to closely watch our state legislators and the gambling lobbyists who hand out money to get the kind of laws they want.  We at Eagle Forum need to watch closely what is going on behind the scenes in our state Capitols.  Most states already know how to play the gambling game, but they will need new laws to regulate and operate sports betting.  Our game plan should be to stop all expansion before it starts.  Easier said than done, but if we collaborate together we can make their expansion more difficult.  And we can share strategies that work.  Now is the time to get to know as many legislators as possible and how they feel about gambling.

An excellent resource to take advantage of is Stop Predatory Gambling. (SPG).  They have a DC office and are very active in what transpired last Monday in the Supreme Court. They are a unique mixture of political persuasions, but are united on the gambling issue. They will speak to this problem in many ways as time goes on. One of the SPG experts, Prof. John Kindt, suggests in an article entitled, “SCOTUS Decision Creates a Wild West for Sports Gambling”: “By ignoring the practical socioeconomic impacts and deciding the Murphy case by misapplying the anti-commandeering principle in a myopic decision, the Supreme Court has dictated that Congress take immediate remedial and regulatory actions.” Let’s encourage our own Congressmen to act by sending them this article.

Mark Andrews
Eagle Forum Gambling Chairman