Former Law Enforcement Leaders: Time to Repeal Federal Government Sports Betting Ban

Press Release | September 21st, 2016

Washington, DC – Leading voices in law enforcement today issued five recommendations for addressing the $150 billion illegal sports betting market that funds dangerous criminal enterprises and threatens the integrity of sports. Among the recommendations from the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) Illegal Gambling Advisory Board is a call for Congress to repeal the federal ban on sports betting and replace it with rigorous regulation. The Board is led by chair Tim Murphy, former Deputy Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who guided a first-ever Law Enforcement Summit on illegal sports betting in Washington, D.C. this summer.

“The current approach to sports betting in the United States is not working; instead, it’s fueling criminal enterprises,” said Murphy. “The time has come to repeal the current sports betting ban and replace it with rigorous regulations that benefit states, protect consumers and maintain the integrity of the games.”

The new report, “Law Enforcement Summit on Illegal Sports Betting: After-Action Report,” draws the following conclusions:

  1. Current U.S. Approach To Sports Betting Is Failing. Under the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), federal law largely prohibits sports betting outside Nevada. Instead of curbing illegal betting, the law has driven sports betting underground, creating a thriving, $150-$450 billion illegal market with no consumer protections, no tax benefits for communities and no safeguards for sport integrity.
  2. Illegal Sports Betting Fuels Criminal Enterprises. Under PASPA, hundreds of billions in illegal sports betting proceeds are funneled to criminal enterprises and used to finance a range of criminal activity. This illicit activity drains law enforcement resources, hindering their ability to fight crime and protect our nation’s citizens.
  3. Open, Transparent, Regulated Sports Betting System Boosts Law Enforcement Oversight. A regulated sports betting system aids law enforcement efforts and can protect consumers. The United Kingdom and other international markets demonstrate how legal, regulated sports betting can create a powerful partnership between the gaming industry, the leagues and law enforcement. This transparent system provides effective tools to monitor, investigate and shut down illegal activity.
  4. States Must Play a Central Role. The federal ban on sports betting interferes with states’ traditional role in regulating gambling. And unfortunately, due to the current law, states lack key tools to protect consumers.
  5. Time to Repeal Federal Sports Betting Ban. Many law enforcement leaders believe it is time to reconsider the national ban on sports betting and allow states to determine if they wish to regulate this form of wagering.
    “No voice is more important than law enforcement to make clear the perils of a thriving illegal sports betting market – and why prohibition is failing,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA. “The Illegal Gambling Advisory Board makes a compelling case that will capture the interest of lawmakers on Capitol Hill and demonstrate why it’s time for legislative action.”

In addition to Murphy, the Illegal Gambling Advisory Board consists of: Ed Davis, former Boston Police Commissioner; Jim Dinkins, former Executive Associate Director, Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement; J.B. Van Hollen, former Attorney General for Wisconsin, President of the National Association of Attorneys General and former U.S. Attorney; and Bill Young, former Sheriff of Clark County, Nevada.

Illegal betting reached $4.1 billion on Super Bowl 50 earlier this year and AGA is estimating that 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 a federal government ban.

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, 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. AGA is focused on five types of illegal gambling: sports betting; illicit machines; Internet sweepstakes cafes; online and often offshore wagering and animal betting.

About AGA: The American Gaming Association is the premier national trade group representing the $240 billion U.S. casino industry, which supports 1.7 million jobs in 40 states. AGA members include commercial and tribal casino operators, suppliers and other entities affiliated with the gaming industry. It is the mission of the AGA to be the single most effective champion of the industry, relentlessly protecting against harmful and often misinformed public policies, and paving a path for growth, innovation and reinvestment.

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