NFL Weighs In On Sports Betting Regulation at U.S. House Hearing

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On Thursday, the National Football League called for limits on prop bets at a Congressional hearing on sports wagering and a possible federal framework to keep it in check.

The hearing before a House judiciary subcommittee comes four months after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, effectively allowing legal sportsbooks in states other than Nevada.

Jocelyn Moore, NFL executive VP for communications and public affairs, told the committee the league wants some regulation on the burgeoning industry of sports wagering.

“While we respect the court’s ruling, it has ushered in a new reality,” she said. “The absence of clear sports betting standards threatens the integrity of our nation’s sporting contest.

“We are asking for core standards to protect the integrity of our game,” she pressed.

Specifically, the NFL is seeking federal betting safeguards on actions that occur during its games – prop bets – such as, if a field goal goes through the uprights or drifts wide right, or how many penalties are called or total passing yards for Tom Brady. She suggested prop bets could be susceptible to manipulation.

Also on the list of what the NFL wants: a ban on bets by players, coaches, refs and other team employees; a minimum betting age of 21 years old; a requirement that sportsbooks use official league data; and a protocol for sportsbooks to communicate across state lines on “abnormal” betting patterns.

An official of the American Gaming Association, which represents the casino industry and favors state oversight, also spoke to the committee.

Sara Slane, senior VP of public affairs of the AGA, said the system is working and no additional oversight is needed at this time.

"The bottom line is, with such robust and rigorous regulatory oversight at both the state and federal levels, there is no need to overcomplicate or interfere with a system that is already working," she said.

Testimony from groups opposing gambling also was heard. In a written statement Jon Bruning of the Coalition to Stop Online Gambling which encourages federal oversight, said the Supreme Court ruling “will spur a ‘Wild West’ for sports betting creating opportunities for criminal organizations and the potential for exploitation of society’s most vulnerable.”

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) cited options that could be considered including Congress enacting “a federal ban on sports gambling” or to “defer to the states and allow them to legalize and regulated the sports gaming business.

“A third option,” he said, “would be for Congress to adopt uniform, minimum federal standards, which would guide the imposition of sports wagering across the nation, in states that desire to legalize the practice."

Sensenbrenner acknowledged the subcommittee has “some work to do.”

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