US President Donald Trump was asked on Super Bowl Sunday about the possibility of legal sports betting in all US states.
The outspoken former casino owner and current Commander-in-Chief of the United States had a rather pragmatic response to the query, and at least did not outright dismiss the idea.
The question came via a radio interview with Westwood One Sports Radio. Trump was also asked about the possibility of NFL players being able to use medical marijuana.
President Trump: "Well, what I’d do is I’d sit down with the commissioners. I would be talking to them, and we’ll see how they feel about it. Some would not want it, and probably others -- and I’ve read others maybe do. But I would certainly want to get their input and get the input from the various leagues, and we’ll see how they feel about it. I’d also get the input from lots of law enforcement officials, because, obviously, that’s a big step. So we wouldn’t do it lightly, I can tell you. It will be studied very carefully. But I would want to have a lot of input from a lot of different people." (full transcript available at WhiteHouse.gov).
Under current federal law [the Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 or "PASPA], sports betting is limited to Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana, though only Nevada offers traditional straight up sports betting inside their local casinos. As a result, many Americans who don't reside within the confines of Nevada look for online sportsbooks to place wagers with, though not all are created equal, which is why Sportsbook Review formed in 1999 to serve as a betting industry watchdog to help players avoid being scammed by blacklisted sites.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has called for Congress to create a federal framework that would allow states to authorize and regulate betting on pro sports. The NHL and MLB commissioners have remained neutral, while the NFL is against legalized sports betting even though it allows daily fantasy sports companies to advertise on telecasts and in stadiums. A few NFL owners have financial stakes in DFS companies, which also aren't legal in every state currently. The NFL is ready to potentially let the Raiders move from Oakland to the gaming capital of the USA, Las Vegas, in a couple of years. The NHL will have a team in Sin City for the 2017-18 season.
New Jersey has been fighting in federal court for years to bring sports betting to Atlantic City, but may ultimately need the Supreme Court to take on the case. Billions of dollars a year are spent on wagers with online sportsbooks. Many in Congress believe sports betting should be legalized nationwide and taxed. Republicans control the House of Representatives and Senate, so if Trump wanted this legalized it likely would pass.
Trump on Marijuana
Trump said he didn’t have an opinion on the pot issue and wouldn’t have one until the issue rose to “the level of the presidency.” There are currently 28 states that allow medical marijuana and seven of those that allow it to be used recreationally. Four of those states house NFL teams: California (Rams, Chargers, Raiders and 49ers), Colorado (Broncos), Massachusetts (Patriots) and Washington (Seahawks).
Most Americans believe marijuana will be approved in every state by the end of the decade. While the NFL’s policy regarding substance abuse includes a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) permitting the use of otherwise banned substances to treat “an appropriately diagnosed medical problem,” marijuana is excluded. The NFL’s justification is that marijuana is prohibited by federal law.
The NFL Players’ Association leadership is preparing a proposal for consideration by the player reps that would lead to the sport’s drug policy taking a “less punitive” approach toward recreational marijuana use by players. If that proposal is ratified by the NFLPA, it would be forwarded to the league which also would have to ratify it for marijuana-related changes to be enacted under the sport’s collectively bargained drug policy. Marijuana is considered prevalent in the NFL and NBA.