Perfect PASPA Storm

The NFL is sure going to be busy in 2010. And not promoting its product outside the United States or ramping up its fledgling TV network. No, the NFL, or should I say the NFL’s lawyers, are going to be busy fighting new legislation introduced this week from several states and a Supreme Court fight.

The NFL is sure going to be busy in 2010. And not promoting its product outside the United States or ramping up its fledgling TV network. No, the NFL, or should I say the NFL’s lawyers, are going to be busy fighting new legislation introduced this week from several states and a Supreme Court fight.

Last year, the tiny state of Delaware spent over $600,000 in legal fees to ensure passage of a very watered-down version of a sports betting bill. However, by providing just multi-game betting (parlay and teaser cards), the state still turned a profit. Now, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has announced a decision to appeal an August ruling, by the 3rd circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, to the Supreme Court! That’s gonna incur some legal fees. Still, the state has to convince the court to hear the argument, thus, expanded sports betting in the 1st State is still a long shot.

The NFL and other sports leagues were able to convince the Third Circuit Court that Delaware should only be allowed to offer sports betting in the fashion that it was offered before the passage of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that was passed in 1992. The federal law includes a partial exemption for Delaware, Nevada, Montana and Oregon, allowing them to have sports betting “to the extent” it was “conducted” previously. PASPA is really the one piece of legislation that is stunting any hope for the growth of sports betting in the U.S. If the case does get heard by the land’s highest court, it will be, as far as I know, the first time the Supreme Court has heard a challenge to the federal law.

However, help may be on the horizon in other cases that are sure to be heard throughout the land. Perhaps on the success of Delaware, the State’s lawyers may be getting assistance from newly sponsored legislation in two states to void PASPA.

New Jersey made a bit of a play last year as State Sen. Raymond Lesniak introduced legislation to allow sports betting in Atlantic City, mainly as a way to bolster the dying casino town’s revenue stream. He was able to garner support from then-governor John Corzine and had the assistance of iMEGA, but his bill did not gain much traction. Just two weeks into the New Year and Leasniak is already making another play. He has introduced an act “permitting wagering at casinos in-person and through an account wagering system using telephone, Internet and other means on the results of professional and collegiate sport or athletic events”. Talk about going for the gusto! Lesniak is not only including sports betting, but, in the face of certain litigation by the NFL and NCAA, he is also adding in the Internet. Yes, internet wagering has made it into his 2010 version of the bill. So, the Justice Department will most likely also have something to say about this piece of legislation.

But Lesniak is serious, already ramping-up the rhetoric. He has been quoted as saying, “People are doing it. They’re doing it every day. They’re doing it for the NCAA tournament. They’re doing it for the Super Bowl and professional football. But we can’t regulate it and run it in the state of New Jersey.” Finally, someone who gets it – gamblers are gonna gamble. In fact, I just got doing it, and I want to do it again! Lesniak is also considering suing the Federal Government to overturn the PASA law.

Also this week, out of left-field, came a House Resolution from legislators in Missouri, of all places. Can it be that Gary Kaplan and David Carruthers are working their St. Louis jailers over to have their lawmakers allow sports betting? After all, the state probably owns the URL after taking down one of the largest sports gambling houses on the Internet. Was this really the whole reason that BOS was indicted and convicted – to pave the way for legal sports betting in the state?

The piece of legislation, House Concurrent Resolution No. 22 urges the United States Congress to remove the federal ban on sports wagering. The best line in the document is when the State legislators declare, I guess after the demise of BOS and little or no change in the gaming landscape, that “the federal sports wagering ban is not effective in curbing illegal sports gambling.” I wonder when the light bulb went on to figure that out? But cynicism aside, this resolution is being sent to the Majority and Minority Leaders of the United States Congress and to each member of the Missouri Congressional delegation. Hopefully, it will have some impact.

So, all of this legislation and legal wrangling could be a perfect storm for the NFL, NCAA and other sports leagues. PASPA was passed nearly two decades ago and all that has happened since then is the explosion of the multi-billion dollar Internet gambling industry and the continued expansion of gambling throughout the country. Following the success that Delaware has seen with just multi-game wagering, in just their first year of operation, and with states looking for any way to generate revenue, perhaps this is just the leading edge of the PASAP perfect storm. Next week Florida is going to discuss Internet wagering in the state capitol and Indian tribes in California are attempting to build a consensus on Internet poker issues. Perhaps we are approaching a perfect storm for Internet wagering as well.

My prediction for all of this for 2010? If states continue to struggle to find revenue, PASAP will have a tough time continuing to be the law of the land. I expect to see other states put pressure on the Federal government as well. And, oh, yeah, a whole bunch of lawyers are going to make a whole bunch of money!


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  • Anon
    January 15, 2010, 4:16 pm

    DE’s casinos are picking up the tab for the appeal.

  • janes
    April 29, 2010, 8:26 pm

    people are going to gamble any way they please


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