Let’s get legal sports gambling on the books

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Now since the Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision has struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which banned sports betting nationwide except for Nevada, states across the nation are scrambling to grab onto this judicial breakthrough by seeking to legalize sports gambling.

However, we cannot be too hasty in this endeavor before proper legal statutes are established to regulate the proper way to ‘play the game.’ Aside from Nevada’s policy implementation, Connecticut lawmakers would have to quickly tend to a series of simple but tedious legal disputes. Top-priority considerations include: deciding upon the legal age, determining the legal locations to conduct betting, creating licensing mandates, as well as enforcing restrictions for possible money laundering.

Specifically, in Connecticut, Governor Dannel Malloy plans to hold a special session with the General Assembly regarding the possible legalization of sports betting, as reported by News 12 of Connecticut.

Like Connecticut, states such as Delaware, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, and already have gambling industries and want to cash in on this opportunity.

Connecticut has cemented a strong tradition of gambling with the immensely popular and profitable Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino. With the inclusion of sports betting, it would be wise for our state politicians to take advantage of this Supreme Court ruling to produce more employment opportunities by centralizing casinos as sport gambling centers as well as reducing the utter burden of our state budget deficit.

When state Comptroller Kevin Lembo verified a $207.8 million deficit in 2017, innovative methods for tax reform were deemed necessary to counteract such economic disparities. Virtually, any amount of financial revenue which derives from the taxation for sports betting would significantly serve to the betterment of lowering the state budget deficit for taxpayers statewide.

But we cannot keep our hopes up yet as the amount of revenue may not be as favorable in comparison to what our expectations would suggest otherwise. Chris Grove, a gaming analyst for the research firm Eilers & Krejcik, estimates that 32 states to eventually allow sports gaming, worth roughly $6 billion annually.

In 2017, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey created the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act which would enact a legal framework for consumer protections on the state level, and not federal. Ultimately this bill removes restrictions which require consumer protections to be overseen by the federal government versus the states who can choose to legalize and regulate by themselves. Connecticut should adopt the GAME Act or ratify a similar document to bypass federal barriers which disallow state legislators from developing sports betting conduct on their own.

But this does not mean that the legislature should simply bypass the gambling industry in Connecticut when drafting the bill. Rather, state representatives have worked with the casinos on strategic policies in the past. Thus, it seems favorable to foster another collaborative effort to work in the mutual interests of the state and private sector regarding the legal precedents for sports gambling in Connecticut.

Gabriel Pietrorazio lives in Watertown.


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