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Volume 25 No. 6

Sports in Society

Monmouth Park officials said that they will "file an application in U.S. District Court seeking to recoup hundreds of millions of dollars in damages that resulted from opposition to sports betting from the major professional sports league and NCAA," according to Stephen Edelson of the ASBURY PARK PRESS. Monmouth Park Racetrack operator Dennis Drazin said the track is "seeking damages from the time a temporary restraining order won by the leagues went into effect" in '14. Monmouth Park was "preparing to accept bets on NFL games" in October '14 before the pro leagues convinced a judge "to issue the stop order." The league have now "changed their tune" following the Supreme Court's decision to allow legalized sports gambling. The NFL on Monday said that it "wants Congress to implement a 'core regulatory framework' for sports betting in the wake" of the Court's ruling (ASBURY PARK PRESS, 5/16). The tentative date set for Monmouth Park to open the William Hill Sports Book and "begin accepting the first wagers on individual sporting events outside Nevada is Monday, May 28." The question is whether state lawmakers will have "completed legislation that will provide the framework for sports betting in the state." Drazin has said that there is "nothing stopping" the track from "opening its sports book before the legislation is complete, nor has he been told by Gov. Phil Murphy or Senate president Steve Sweeney that they would stop the track" (ASBURY PARK PRESS, 5/16).

TRYING TO GET THEIR CUT: The AP's Wayne Parry noted now that pro sports leagues "lost the court battle" to prevent legalized sports betting, many "suspect that they are now pushing for federal legislation not for high-minded reasons, but because they see it as the easiest way to get a cut of the proceeds." Negotiating a piece of the action with Congress "would be more efficient than trying to work out deals one by one with dozens of states." A nationwide bill passed by Congress "could require casinos, tracks or state governments to share some of their revenue with the sports leagues -- or pay them what the leagues like to call 'integrity fees,' designed to cover the costs of policing betting" (AP, 5/15). However, former New Jersey state Sen. Ray Lesniak said of leagues getting a cut of gambling revenues, “No way, no how, never.” Lesniak: “They fought us, they fought me, eight times in court before we finally got to the Supreme Court. We’re going to pay them? They should be paying us. No way they’re going to get any money from New Jersey, that’s for sure” (“Get Up!,” ESPN, 5/15). New Jersey state Rep. Frank Pallone: “For the leagues to expect any money from New Jersey after we spent all the money fighting them in court is a little unreasonable on their part. That’s not going to happen" ("OTL," ESPN, 5/15).

Silver stressed the integrity of the league is paramount when it comes to sports betting
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

NBA LOBBIES FOR LEGISLATION: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the Court's ruling prior to last night's Draft Lottery and said the "next move is to work on a federal level to try to get Congress to adapt a national framework." He said the league believes there should be a "common sort of framework for all states, and then allow states to opt in or not." Silver: "We operate in 50 states, and it concerns us a little bit to have a hodge-podge of regulations." He stressed the integrity of the league "is paramount" and said, "We’re going to have to take a fresh look at everything we do and just make sure everything is completely covered: how we disclose information, how referees are assigned. Things we deal with already, but we realize there will be that much more scrutiny on everything that happens in the league" ("NBA Draft Lottery," ESPN, 5/15). NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman this morning said, "The thing that’s most important to us is that framework is done in a sensible way. Having 20 different states with 20 different sets of regulations and laws won't be our idea of a good time. Uniformity is vital if this is going to work at any level” (“Squawk Box,” CNBC, 5/16).

NOT MUCH MOMENTUM: USA TODAY's Herb Jackson in a front-page piece reports there does not appear to be "much momentum" for federal legislation on sports betting in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's ruling on Monday despite U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) pledge to unveil a bill. Congress is entering a "slow period in the run-up to the midterm elections," and the "only bills likely to reach President Trump's desk are those that keep the government or specific programs running or that help the GOP maintain control of seats." American Gaming Association lobbyist Chris Cylke said, "It’s going to be a heavy lift for Congress to do anything in the near-term. This is viewed by many stakeholders as a states’ rights issue, so it’s tough for those asking Congress to assert the federal government’s involvement here." Jackson reports a centralized system of federal rules "might benefit the sports leagues, but there are other companies, especially fantasy sports firms such as FanDuel and DraftKings, that have spent the last few years getting their games approved on a state-by-state basis and are ready to exploit their expertise by offering new games." The majority opinion from Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito "left the door open for Congress to step in and pre-empt the states if it wants to set up a federal regulatory system." Boosting the chances of federal action is the fact that team owners "tend to have political clout in their states, and could influence lawmakers, especially if negotiations with states do not go their way" (USA TODAY, 5/16).

MONEY TO BE MADE: ESPN.com's Matt Scott noted Sportradar U.S. Deputy President Laila Mintas anticipates the Supreme Court's decision will bring "huge commercial benefits to U.S. sports." Mintas said bookmakers on average "spend over 25 percent of their total revenues on marketing," and they "will be the next big driver of growth in sports sponsorship." Scott noted that has "certainly been the case in the U.K." In '17-18, the principal sponsors of nine out of 20 EPL clubs were "gambling businesses" (ESPN.com, 5/15). In L.A., Vincent Bonsignore fans should expect Rams Owner Stan Kroenke and Chargers Chair Dean Spanos to "assume a forward-thinking position to the changing dynamics in order to be ready to capitalize on new revenue streams for their franchises." Those could come through "new sponsorships and/or whatever eventual in-stadium or entertainment district gaming opportunities might be available" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 5/16).

Gambling operators and state legislators in New York are "scrambling to craft a new regulatory framework" to allow for legalized sports betting, according to David Lombardo of the Albany TIMES UNION. A recent state law "outlines a general process for offering sports gambling at the state's new upstate casinos, but a comprehensive overhaul would need to be adopted before the end of the legislative session in six weeks to move it forward this year." The New York Gaming Commission "must also adopt regulations and issue a sports gambling license before the casinos could offer sports wagering." New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo yesterday "rejected the idea that sports gambling in New York could be rolled out using the broad framework crafted" in '13. Cuomo said that a new law was "needed if the state wanted to proceed with sports gambling" (Albany TIMES UNION, 5/16).

LET'S TAKE A LOOK: In Indianapolis, Tony Cook in a front-page piece reports Indiana lawmakers will take a "closer look at sports betting" before reconvening for the '19 legislative session. Sports betting was added to the list of topics to discuss "just hours before" legislative leaders met yesterday following the Supreme Court's decision Monday. The ruling "clears the way for Indiana lawmakers to legalize gambling on sports -- if they want to do so." However, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma "warned that the decision to study the issue doesn't necessarily imply support." Additionally, input from the NCAA, which is headquartered in Indianapolis, is "expected to play an important role in the state's direction" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/16). Tennessee state Sen. Brian Kelsey "plans to introduce legislation that could open the door for sports betting in the state with K-12 education reaping some of the benefits." Gambling is currently "illegal in Tennessee with exemptions of the state lottery, certain charitable events approved by two-thirds of the legislature and fantasy sports" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 5/16). Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said that he is "open to the idea of allowing Arizonans to place bets on sporting events at 55 off-track betting sites around the state." The earliest residents "could legally place bets ... would be next year." Meanwhile, several Native American tribes "already are expressing interest in revamping their agreements with the state to also allow them to offer sports wagering" (ARIZONA DAILY STAR, 5/16).

WAITING A LITTLE BIT LONGER: In Louisville, Aulbach & Loftus report Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin is "open to hearing what proposals state lawmakers may put forward" regarding legalized betting. Bevin previously "has spoken out against gambling," but he "stopped short of saying he is against gambling on sports" yesterday. He said that individual states "should have the right to legalize the activity if they choose." However, Bevin is in "no rush to legalize gambling." He said that he "expects state lawmakers to form committees to research the subject, including how it has impacted other states that have legalized sports betting, and how the move could potentially help Kentucky" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 5/16). In Colorado, Peter Roper in a front-page piece reports Gov. John Hickenlooper's office said that it will take a "statewide ballot question for Colorado to approve sports wagering." The state's General Assembly "just concluded its yearly session without giving any thought to sports betting." The state deadline in Colorado for getting a ballot question before state voters was April 6, so the "earliest any action can happen is during the next session of the Legislature, which begins next January" (PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN, 5/16). In DC, Steve Thompson notes any betting proposal in Maryland "now must wait until next year, barring a special legislative session, which the office of Gov. Larry Hogan said he has no plans to initiate." That "pushes the soonest potential legalization" to '20. Meanwhile, DC council member Jack Evans would "like to get betting in place before Maryland and Virginia do, so gamblers from across the region can spend their dollars in Washington." He is "planning to introduce a bill" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/16).

MAINTAINING THE STATUS QUO: In Maine, Thistle & Craig reported while several states are "poised to offer legalized sports betting," do "not expect to find it in Maine anytime soon." Maine Gambling Control Board Exec Dir Milton Champion said that there is "no sports-betting legislation pending" in the state. He added that he was not expecting the "prospect of sports betting to come up during the board's monthly meeting" that took place yesterday. However, Maine state Rep. Louis Luchini said that he "anticipates multiple bills on sports betting will be introduced" during the '19 legislative session (PORTLAND PRESS HERALD, 5/15). Nothing will "change immediately in Montana," which was one of the few states allowed to keep limited sports betting under the PASPA bill passed in '92. It will take the state legislature "introducing and passing a bill to allow" for increased sports betting, and the "next regularly scheduled session" is slated for '19. Montana state Sen. Mark Blasdel: "I don't think it's a significant revenue source. It'd be another option if that's what they put forward, but it all depends on what the framework and the legislation looks like" (HELENA INDEPENDENT RECORD, 5/15).

TEXAS TWO-STEP: In San Antonio, Mike Finger writes it is unlikely sports betting will "spread to Texas." As long as the "most powerful men in this state remain the most powerful men in this state, there is no reason to believe Monday's Supreme Court ruling ... will have much of an impact south of the Red River." Even if the Republicans in the state legislature "miraculously changed their minds about gambling, or even if the Democrats miraculously win control this November, the earliest we could see any legal sports gambling in Texas would be" spring '19. But that is "not going to happen, because our politicians have made it quite clear they are not interested in playing ball, however lucrative it might be" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 5/15). However, in Austin, Kirk Bohls writes gambling is "good business." Most people in Texas "will not jump on board with legalized sports wagering now that the Supreme Court has abolished the federal government's ban." Texas can "get on that train or let every adjacent state add to its coffers at the expense of revenue here at home." Bohls: "Legalize it, and tax the hell out of it" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 5/16).