Sports Betting Policy Summit Debates Sticky Questions

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At last week’s U.S. Sports Betting Policy Summit in Washington, D.C., Ohio state Sen. Bill Coley pitched interstate sports betting compacts as one way to combat the international betting market.

The state is on the brink of bringing legal betting to Ohioans with a placeholder bill approved by the state legislature with anticipation a sportsbook will open in 2019.

But as more states move forward with legal wagering, each with its own rules and regulations, Conley believes a multi-state agreement is the future of sports betting.

“If you work out a state-to-state compact where data is shared, and you agree on some protocols, I think you can get rid of a lot of the bad things people are worried about,” Conley said at the summit. “Things like casinos not taking bets, anti-money laundering, match-fixing, when you have the ability to look at that, it makes it hard for the bad guys to run and hide.”

Working against Conley’s proposal is the long-standing federal Interstate Wire Act, which acts as a deterrent for sharing certain types of sports data without interstate cooperation.

Conley said he can “guarantee” any future Ohio sports betting bill would include the shared data concept.

One summit presenter speaking against this approach was Art Manteris, vice president of sports and race operations at Stations Casinos. He said that too many rules could curb the burgeoning sports betting industry.

“What you’re proposing is risky,” Manteris said at the summit. “If there is federal oversight or interstate compacts, there is always the risk of over-regulation.”

As more and more states pass their own sports wagering bills, it becomes increasingly clear the U.S. could have 50 different bills with 50 different sets of rules. Manteris touted Nevada as the preferred blueprint saying it should be copied and emulated by other states.

“Our model has worked well for 50 years and we have a lot to be proud of,” Manteris said.

Conley disagreed, saying the Nevada regulation was great “for the time that it was set up.”

“I’m not dissing the Nevada model, but I think we need to take it further,” Coley told those in attendance.

He called for a governmental agency to screen and monitor suspicious betting activity. He recommended it be in Nevada.

The use of and access to sports data, too, was discussed at the summit with officials of two professional leagues having differing views.

Ted Leonsis, majority owner of the NHL’s Washington Capitals, declared “This is the data industry. This is not about gaming.

“We give that info away to inform our fans,” he said, adding that leagues “have an opportunity to make our fan experience more interactive.”

Clarence Nesbitt, general counsel for the NBA Players' Association, made a point that some of the data may not necessarily belong to pro teams and shouldn’t be shared. For example, an athlete’s health metrics gathered by wearable devices.

That information becomes hot commodity if it can be used by bettors to determine a player’s ability to perform, thus affecting results of the game. Use of those devices is regulated through collective bargaining agreements between leagues and player unions. He said the government may need to get involved.

“[I would] much rather see it [regulated] at the federal level,” he said.

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