NFL seeks help from Congress on ruling
The NFL wants Congress to enact a framework for legalized sports betting in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling that clears the way for more states to allow sports gambling.
Supreme Court justices voted 6-3 on Monday to strike down a 1992 law that barred most state-authorized sports gambling. Before the Supreme Court ruling, Nevada was the only state that allowed people to bet on the results of a single game.
“Congress has long recognized the potential harms posed by sports betting to the integrity of sporting contests and the public confidence in these events,” the NFL said in a statement. “Given that history, we intend to call on Congress again, this time to enact a core regulatory framework for legalized sports betting.”
All the major leagues responded to a ruling that figures to have far-reaching implications throughout the sports world. The NHL noted that “today paves the way to an entirely different landscape — one in which we have not previously operated.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, a supporter of legalizing sports gambling, said his league would “remain active in ongoing discussions with state legislatures” about expanding wagering options.
Silver also said the league would like to see a federal framework instead of a state-by-state system. The NBA once opposed expanded sports betting but has long said it supports robust regulation.
The NBA and Major League Baseball have argued in recent months for a 1 percent cut of proceeds if legalized sports betting expands across the country, saying part of that money would be needed for additional compliance and enforcement efforts within the game.
“As each state considers whether to allow sports betting, we will continue to seek the proper protections for our sport, in partnership with other professional sports,” Major League Baseball said in a statement.
Keith Whyte, the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, believes any governmental body and sports league that receives a direct percentage or portion of sports betting revenue must also dedicate funds to prevent and treat gambling problems.
“Some of that 1 percent of betting fees is going to come from people with uncontrollable gambling problems,” Whyte said. “We believe by taking a cut of this money, (the leagues would) put themselves in the position of having to do something to reduce those costs. Great profits come with great responsibility.”
MLB said it would “continue to support legislation that creates air-tight coordination and partnerships between the state, the casino operators and the governing bodies in sports” toward protecting the integrity of the game. Major League Soccer issued a statement seeking similar cooperation.
“Although Major League Soccer is supportive of today’s Supreme Court decision, we also believe that it is critical that state legislatures and other regulatory bodies work closely with the professional sports leagues in the United States to develop a regulatory framework to protect the integrity of each of our respective sports,” the MLS said in its statement. “We look forward to being a part of that process.”
Plenty of leagues already have taken steps to make sure its players are educated on the issue.
For example, last year the PGA Tour hired Genesis Sports to help with its new “Integrity Program” that began at the start of the year. The program requires players on all six circuits the PGA Tour manages to take part in an online tutorial that, among other things, illustrates some of the far-reaching effects of gambling.
“We believe that regulation is the most effective way of ensuring integrity in competition, protecting consumers, engaging fans and generating revenue for government, operators and leagues,” the PGA Tour said in a statement.
The Supreme Court ruling will impact college sports as well as the pro leagues. Donald Remy, the NCAA’s chief legal officer, said the organization is reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision and that “we will adjust sports wagering and championship policies to align with the direction from the court.”
The NCAA currently doesn’t hold NCAA Tournament games or any other NCAA-run events in Nevada because of its legal gambling. Las Vegas is home to the annual Las Vegas Bowl as well as the Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament and other tournaments, which aren’t run by the NCAA itself.
The NCAA said 24 percent of NCAA male student-athletes and about 5 percent of female student-athletes in 2016 reported they had wagered on sports for money within the previous year, which would violate NCAA bylaws. Just below 2 percent of the men participating in the 2016 survey met what the NCAA termed as standard diagnostic criteria for problem gambling.
Reactions to the Supreme Court ruling across the sports world weren’t limited to the league offices. The athletes themselves also were wondering about the possible implications of increased legal sports gambling.
NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski tweeted he was “torn” on the Supreme Court’s decision. Keselowski said it “should be great for our sport, but I’ve also seen gambling ruin lives.”
“If you choose to gamble on me or anyone else, please be responsible, and if you need help, get help,” Keselowski added.