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Gaming industry urges reconsideration of sports betting ban

A failed federal ban on sports betting is driving an illegal, underground market of at least $150 billion annually, argues legal papers filed in the United States Supreme Court by the American Gaming Association.

The group said its brief details how the failed federal ban on sports betting is funding dangerous criminal enterprises and threatening the integrity of sports.

New Jersey appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court last month challenging the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which limits legal sports betting to four states that include Nevada.

“As President Donald Trump has acknowledged, illegal sports betting is a thriving industry,” AGA President and CEO Geoff Freeman said in a statement.

“The 24-year-old federal ban –which is breathing life into a $150 billion illegal sports betting market — threatens the integrity of games, presents fundamental questions about states’ sovereignty to define their own laws and combat crime within their borders, and prevents fans from engaging with the sports they enjoy in a safe, legal way,” Freeman said. “The United States Supreme Court should consider New Jersey’s important claims and allow all states to address the serious problems associated with illegal sports betting,” Freeman said.

Since President George H.W. Bush signed PASPA into law in 1992, trillions of dollars have been bet on sports illegally. Annually, sports fans wager about $150 billion illegally, including $4.1 billion on Super Bowl 50.

AGA estimates fans across the country will bet $90 billion on NFL and college football games this season. However, $88 billion – or 98 percent – of all bets will be made illegally, thanks to the federal government ban. In September, the American Gaming Association released two reports on sports betting.

“The Key to Sports Integrity in the United States: Legalized, Regulated Sports Betting” details how the United States would benefit from adopting an approach similar to that in the United Kingdom to allow legal, regulated sports betting in an open and transparent market to protect the integrity of sports. The second report, “Law Enforcement Summit on Illegal Sports Betting: After-Action Report,” found that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act is fueling a massive underground betting market and should be repealed. Through its “Stop Illegal Gambling – Play it Safe” initiative, the casino gaming industry is working with law enforcement organizations and agencies.

Including the FBI, attorneys general, district attorneys, police chiefs, sheriffs and others, they seek to expose the growing illegal gambling market that preys on consumers, siphons tax revenues and funds violent crime – and stands in stark contrast to the legal, regulated gaming industry that serves as a community partner across 40 states, the American Gaming Association said.

The association is focused on five types of illegal gambling: sports betting, illicit machines, Internet sweepstakes cafes, online and often off-shore wagering and animal betting.

The American Gaming Association is the national trade group representing the $240 billion U.S. casino industry, which supports 1.7 million jobs in 40 states. Association members include commercial and tribal casino operators, suppliers and other entities affiliated with the gaming industry.

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