Pennsylvania House Committee Seeks To Repeal PASPA

February 16, 2016

A bill asking Congress to overturn the federal ban on sports betting has nearly unanimously passed the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee. The bill, HR-619, emphasizes the fact that regardless of the federal ban, illegal sports betting takes place consistently within the United States.

Some points made in HR-619 are directly aimed towards the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) being ineffective especially during the modern age of the internet:

“WHEREAS, Fantasy sports betting, primarily through Internet websites, blurs the lines with regard to sports betting in general, and the Federal Government has left the determination of the legality and regulation of fantasy sports to states.”

HR-619 also highlights the large amounts of illegal revenues generated by under-the-table sports betting within the U.S:

“WHEREAS, According to a 2008 report conducted for the National Basketball Association’s Board of Governors, some estimates have the total volume of sports betting in the United States at $325 to $400 billion, with less than 1% of betting taking place in legal form.”

Online gambling the next big issue within Pennsylvania

Another hot topic bill in the Pennsylvania legislature is HB-649, which is a bill that would be the first step towards legalized online gambling and poker in the state. HB-649 first came into the spotlight in early 2015 when the state was looking for ways to lessen its budget deficit.

Two key lawmakers and longtime proponents of online gambling are set to retire, creating an urgency to pass the legislation this year. With this heightened urgency, we could see online gambling pass through the houses by spring time.

If the legislation doesn’t make it through the houses by spring, the retirement of those longtime Internet gambling proponents could have the opposite effect on iGaming legislation, making it more difficult to pass in the future.

What neighboring states are taking similar actions?

New Jersey has made several attempts to legalize sports betting within its borders, but it has not prevailed. The state was optimistic about legalized sports betting when a law was passed in 2014 partially repealing the state’s former ban on sports betting. Unfortunately, the law was deemed federally illegal because of PASPA.

New Jersey has not given up due to the legal setbacks, though. Currently, the state awaits a case rehearing which is scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals on February 17. The pressure from other states like Pennsylvania that are also seeking a repeal of the federal law could have an effect on the court’s decision.

Privacy Policy