EDITORIAL: Approve bill allowing federal government to regain control over sports gambling

York Dispatch
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is proposing that the federal government take back control of sports gambling in the United States. AP FILE PHOTO
  • A federal bill has been introduced to regulate sports gambling.
  • The bill has received bipartisan support from senators Chuck Schumer and Orrin Hatch.
  • A recent Supreme Court decision has legalized sports gambling across the nation.

Since cave men first engaged in an athletic competition, there’s probably been gambling on sports.

Not long after that, some wise guy cave man probably tried to figure out a way shave points.

It’s a simple fact of life. If there’s gambling, there’s certain to be some level of corruption to go with it. The temptation is just too great for some to resist.

Fast forward a few thousand years, and the corruption problem in sports gambling still exists.

Only now the government has stepped into the predicament with both feet.

That’s because of a recent Supreme Court ruling legalizing sports wagering.

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Eight states, including Pennsylvania, almost immediately decided to offer sports gambling as a way to generate millions in revenue. Other states are sure to follow.

Sports gambling is now legal across the nation. Like it or not, that’s the new reality we all need to accept.

However, we don’t have to blindly accept the corruption that typically follows along with any form of betting.

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Bipartisan proposal: That’s why we support the bipartisan proposal from a pair of U.S. senators that would allow the federal government to regain some control over sports wagering in the United States.

A mish-mash of wildly varying regulations from state to state would almost certainly open the door for unethical actors to find holes to exploit in the different statutes. Minimum federal standards for every state to follow should make such exploitation more difficult.

The bill in question was introduced Wednesday by Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, and Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. It would have the U.S. Justice Department set the standards.

Schumer claims the bill would “ensure the integrity of the games we love was never compromised” and “will protect consumers and the games themselves from corruption.”

Hatch made similar comments.

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No guarantees: The fact that this bill has support from both sides of the aisle is encouraging, but there’s no guarantee it will pass, especially in this divisive political climate. Some conservatives reflexively default to giving the state governments precedence over the federal government in such situations, no matter the particulars of the issues involved.

In addition, the powerful American Gaming Industry is against the federal standards, calling the bill “the epitome of a solution in search of a problem,” while also claiming that the issues involved should be left up to the free market, not legislated by the government.

Finally, the state governments will likely be loath to give up any power over the new form of revenue.

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Feds offer best option: Still, in this case, the federal government clearly appears best equipped to effectively regulate the many complex issues involved.

The sports leagues, such as the NFL and Major League Baseball, have expressed support for the federal bill. That’s entirely reasonable. The leagues didn’t want to see legalized gambling come to fruition in the first place. Now that it’s here, they don’t want to deal with 50 sets of different rules.

“The threats posed to the integrity of sporting contests cannot be confined within state borders,” wrote Jocelyn Moore, an NFL executive vice president.

Moore is right. This is a national, not a state issue.

It requires a national response.