Sports Betting Hearing To Be Held on Capitol Hill on Sept 27th

Sports Betting Hearing To Be Held on Capitol Hill on Sept 27th

On Thursday, the 27th of September, the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations will hold a hearing on Capitol Hill in which testimonies will be heard from witnesses who hold a wide variety of views on sports betting. This is the first federal hearing on the issue since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for individual states to determine their own stance on sports betting following its May ruling.

Scheduled Witnesses

The hearing entitled “Post-PASPA: An Examination of Sports Betting in America” will hear arguments presented by five key speakers, two of whom are ardent opposers of all forms of online gambling, namely:

– Jon Bruning, counselor at the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG)
– John Warren Kindt, professor at the University of Illinois.

Their main goal will subsequently be to make the hearing as unproductive as possible, and persuade federal lawmakers to reverse their decision to allow expanded sports betting throughout the nation. More realistically, however, the federal government’s main concern will be whether or not to get involved and impose a federal solution on sports betting, with the other three speakers at the hearing representing the real industry experts:

– Jocelyn Moore, executive VP of communications and public affairs at the NFL
– Sara Slane, senior VP of public affairs at the American Gaming Association
– Becky Harris, chair of the Nevada Gaming Control Board

Federal Intervention Requested

The hearing was scheduled after a number of members of Congress recently called for a federal framework to be imposed on sports betting. One of them is Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) whose suggestions last month includes all sportsbooks using only official league data to determine betting outcomes, and sports leagues being involved in deciding what wagers should be accepted.

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Schumer also put forward some more straightforward recommendations, such as no sports betting from anyone under the age of 21, and prohibiting sports wagering commercials targeted at young people. As he mentioned in a statement at the time:

“With the Supreme Court’s ruling, it’s incumbent on the federal government to take a leadership role and provide the necessary guidance to prevent uncertainty and confusion for the leagues, state governments, consumers and fans alike.”

Anti-Sports Gambling Speaker Kindt

As stated, University of Illinois Professor John Kindt and Jon Bruning from the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling will be the key witnesses speaking out against sports gambling. On the plus side for sports gamblers, Kindt has gained a reputation for demonizing all things gambling and mischaracterizing academic research, and so his testimony will likely be viewed in such a light.

In 1999, for instance, the National Gambling Impact Study Commission (NGISC) was so taken aback of his reading of their research that it decided to debunk a number of his assertions related to social costs, problem gambling costs, and social welfare costs. Moreover, Kindt’s views on gambling are so extreme as to be almost insane. Case in point, at a Congressional testimony in 2006 he suggested that the USA should criminalize all forms of gambling throughout the nation, suggesting:

“Socio-economic history demonstrates that the eventual strategic solution to U.S. and international gambling problems is to re-criminalize gambling and transform gambling facilities into educational and practical technology facilities.”

CSIG Representative Bruning

The ‘Coalition to Stop Online Gambling’ is bankrolled by billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson who has made it his mission to oppose all forms of online gambling. The group will subsequently be represented at the federal hearing by Jon Bruning, a Republican and former Nebraska Attorney General.

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As a lobbyist, Bruning will attempt to steer the sports wagering hearing towards online gambling legislation in general whenever possible, and try to promote his master’s vision of an online gambling ban across the country. Not long ago, however, the same subcommittee he will be standing in front of rejected similar arguments in favor of introducing the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, and Bruning is likely to face the same hurdle going forward. Moreover, critics of the CSIG view the lobby group with deep suspicion and have asserted that its backer Sheldon Adelson’s chief concern is to protect his casino empire from business rivals who have already embraced the industry, including the likes of Caesars Entertainment Corp, and MGM Resorts International.