Re­gional ri­val­ries arise in dash for sports gam­bling cash

The Korea Times - - FEATURE - By Elaine S. Povich

WASH­ING­TON — The Wash­ing­ton, D.C., coun­cil­man was in a hurry. As the city coun­cil pre­pared to pass a bill le­gal­iz­ing bet­ting on sports, Jack Evans was eye­ing states just across the city’s bor­ders — Mary­land and Vir­ginia — that could prove stiff com­pe­ti­tion un­less D.C. got es­tab­lished first.

“It’s im­por­tant for us to get our leg­is­la­tion and our sports gam­bling up and run­ning so we can be the first in our re­gion and hope­fully cap­ture some of the mar­ket,” Evans said just prior to the bill’s 11-2 pas­sage in De­cem­ber.

The coun­cil also adopted an emer­gency mea­sure that al­lows sports bet­ting to be­gin as soon as Demo­cratic Mayor Muriel Bowser signs the bill, skip­ping the re­view pe­riod dur­ing which Con­gress can veto a new D.C. law.

The race to col­lect bet­tors’ cash con­tin­ues as an­other 20 or so states are poised dur­ing their 2019 leg­isla­tive ses­sions to ap­prove sports bet­ting. They’re en­cour­aged by some es­ti­mates that taxes on le­gal sports bet­ting could add mil­lions of dol­lars for their trea­suries, though ex­perts urge cau­tion in an­tic­i­pat­ing that kind of rev­enue.

Seven states have kicked off sports bet­ting since May 14, when the U.S. Supreme Court over­turned the 1992 Pro­fes­sional and Am­a­teur Sports Pro­tec­tion Act, which had ef­fec­tively banned bet­ting on pro­fes­sional and col­le­giate sports ex­cept in Ne­vada.

Delaware acted first, au­tho­riz­ing bet­ting to be­gin June 5 (the gover­nor made the first wa­ger, on a Phillies base­ball game, and won). New Jer­sey fol­lowed, June 14. Mis­sis­sippi, West Vir­ginia (an­other ju­ris­dic­tion that com­petes with nearby D.C.), Penn­syl­va­nia, Rhode Is­land and New Mex­ico also quickly le­gal­ized sports bet­ting.

States on the cusp — where sports leg­is­la­tion was pre-filed or law­mak­ers have in­di­cated their in­ten­tion to do so — will be­gin to con­sider leg­is­la­tion this month. In ad­di­tion to Mary­land and Vir­ginia, they are Arkansas, Cal­i­for­nia, Con­necti­cut, In­di­ana, Iowa, Kansas, Ken­tucky, Louisiana, Mas­sachusetts, Michi­gan, Min­nesota, Mis­souri, Mon­tana, New York, Ohio, Ok­la­homa, Ore­gon, South Carolina and Ten­nessee.

Mean­while, Con­gress is look­ing at reg­u­lat­ing sports bet­ting. New York Demo­cratic Sen. Charles Schumer and Utah Repub­li­can Sen. Or­rin Hatch in­tro­duced a bill in De­cem­ber that would set min­i­mum stan­dards for states of­fer­ing sports bet­ting. It would re­quire states to use the data — such as point spreads and bet­ting odds — pro­vided by the sports leagues.

The states that have le­gal­ized sports bet­ting each have their own cri­te­ria for data, in­clud­ing al­low­ing leagues to pro­vide it.

The fed­eral bill does not in­clude an “in­tegrity fee,” or a cut of the gam­bling rev­enue, for sports leagues. The leagues have suc­cess­fully pushed to in­clude that fee in some of the state mea­sures.

In Wash­ing­ton, D.C., sports wa­ger­ing would be avail­able at venues such as Na­tion­als Park and Cap­i­tal One Arena, home to the city’s pro­fes­sional base­ball, bas­ket­ball and hockey teams.

Bet­tors also would be able to wa­ger at restau­rants and liquor stores that pur­chase a li­cense, or by mo­bile app within the con­fines of the city. The D.C. Lot­tery would over­see the in­dus­try, en­sur­ing op­er­a­tors ob­tain li­censes and en­forc­ing rules such as the min­i­mum age re­quire­ment, which is 18.

The bet­ting is ex­pected to raise $92 mil­lion in rev­enue over the next four years, ac­cord­ing to the city’s chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer. An­tic­i­pat­ing the money, the city has des­ig­nated por­tions of it for early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion and gam­bling ad­dic­tion treat­ment.

Most other states also are dream­ing of dol­lar signs. The Amer­i­can Sports Bet­ting Coali­tion, an in­dus­try group, es­ti­mates that Amer­i­cans il­le­gally wa­ger about $150 bil­lion a year on sports con­tests. Ex­perts sug­gest that le­gal sports bet­ting will cut into — but not elim­i­nate — il­le­gal wa­ger­ing.

Phil­a­del­phia In­quirer-Tribune News Ser­vice

Gen­eral Man­ager Ch­eryl Duhon an­nounces that Su­garHouse Casino launches sports bet­ting at its tem­po­rary sports book on Dec. 13, 2018.

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