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Volume 20 No. 41
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Plugged In: Sara Slane, American Gaming Association

Before joining the American Gaming Association as senior vice president of public affairs three years ago, Sara Slane spent eight years at MGM Resorts International, where she led lobbying efforts that cleared the way for a $1.4 billion casino resort about 10 miles from the nation’s capital. Now, Slane is at the front of an even more ambitious push to legalize sports wagering across the country. With the U.S. Supreme Court set to hear arguments on that issue on Dec. 4, Slane spoke about the AGA’s legislative and judiciary strategies to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 1992 federal law that has kept traditional sports wagering from spreading beyond Nevada.

The industry is omnipresent at this point. There is casino gaming in 40 states and over 1,000 casinos. This isn’t a new concept we’re introducing to anyone.

Courtesy of: AGA
On PASPA, and its impact: The bottom line is that PASPA has failed. … Instead of prohibiting betting on sports, PASPA simply drove it underground. And an illegal market is flourishing. PASPA has created an unregulated $150 billion-a-year illegal market that offers no accountability to regulators, no protection for consumers and no concern about the integrity of the games.

Setting the stage for a legislative solution: We’ve taken a very deliberate and strategic approach. We have been for the past three years working with the gaming industry and stakeholders within the industry to make sure that before we go up to Congress we have alignment on a bill and all the questions that might be relevant to the industry. The casino side. Law enforcement. Any of the stakeholders that would be impacted. That includes the leagues and broadcasters, as well as the actual gaming industry. We’ve really been working with everyone behind the scenes to flesh out what they would like to see ideally from a bill when it is enacted. It has been a huge education process because they really don’t know anything about the industry.

The state of the states: Right now you have 15 states that have either introduced or enacted some form of legislation. So you already are seeing states starting to get in front of this thing. I think that speaks to the [states’] desire to administer sports betting. … It gets more complex as you look at each state’s constitution and how they already administer gaming. It’s not necessarily one size fits all. But you’ve already seen some of these states move. Just as recently as [the last few weeks], Pennsylvania enacted legislation permitting sports betting when [PASPA] is struck down. So there certainly are states that want to see this happen that are getting ahead of the issue before the court rules.

A fix for the fixers: When PASPA was passed in 1992, the commercial internet did not exist. Today, data analytics and integrity monitoring technology help us oversee sports betting activity in real time, a major advantage that couldn’t have been considered 25 years ago. Both perception and the industry have changed. Now it’s time for the law to do the same.                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                            — Bill King