HEAVY hitters in the United States gambling industry are confident that president-elect Donald Trump will back their move to legalise sports betting.
Since 1992 and the introduction of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), only four American states – Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon – have held the right to license and operate sports-related gambling services.
Of those four, only Delaware and Nevada currently offer legal sports betting.
Trump’s decade of experience in the casino industry has led to renewed optimism among the nation’s major wagering bodies.
According to Geoff Freeman, president of American Gaming Association (AGA): “With regards to sports betting, I think that we are entering a perfect storm.”
Bookmakers and casino operators aren’t the only voices calling for nationwide gambling reform.
Once a taboo of the filthiest kind, legalised betting is now a red hot topic among the powerbrokers of America’s major sporting brands.
David Silver, commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA), has long favoured the introduction of regulated sports gambling.
A number of franchises in the NBA, Major League Baseball (MLB) and National Football League (NFL) already have lucrative partnerships with fantasy sports sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel.
But perhaps the most obvious example of this newfound acceptance towards the wagering world has come from the National Hockey League (NHL).
The Vegas Golden Knights will join the Pacific Division of the Western Conference for the 2017-18 NHL season, thus becoming the first top-flight sports team based in America’s gambling capital.
The NFL is expected to follow suit, with the nomadic Raiders franchise – presently housed in Oakland, California – tipped for a move to Sin City within the next few years.
That mainstream acceptance, combined with the availability of online betting services (legal or otherwise) and the growing number of states with licensed casinos, has made repealing the PASPA laws a much simpler prospect than it once was.
“The expansion of gaming outside of Nevada normalized the business,” Freeman said.
“It brought it to St. Louis and Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Columbus. It brought it to all of these markets around the country.
“And what we’ve learned is … the markets in which we do business are the places in which we have the fewest critics.”
Will the United States legalise sports betting?
This has to happen sooner or later.
The USA is built on a constant struggle between puritanical morality and ravenous capitalism, but the latter should enjoy an unprecedented upper hand with Trump in power.
One would have reason to remain sceptical if the only people pushing for this were the casino lobbyists, online bookies and Trump’s old mates in Vegas and Atlantic City.
But now that major players in the NBA, NFL, NFL and MLB are screaming for legalised sports gambling, a change cannot be far away.
Let’s not kid ourselves: the league commissioners and franchise owners are only interested in the huge revenue boosts that a legal and regulated corporate betting industry can offer.
That’s of little concern to punters in the US who have been starved of legitimate sports betting for decades.
Repealing the PASPA and introducing proper regulation means that business goes to licensed bookies instead of organised crime syndicates, so it’s a win-win for Washington.
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