Frank Pallone Jr., a Democratic Congressman from New Jersey’s 6th District, is the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. He is also leading the push to legalize sports betting.
Indeed, the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enactment Act – also known as the GAME Act – would repeal a 1992 federal law that confines sports betting mostly to Nevada. It would also allow states to legalize and regulate sports betting.
“What we’re trying to do is to basically leave it up to the states,” Pallone, 65, said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “If they want to have sports betting, they can. If they want to have online gaming, they can – as long as they implement basic consumer protections.”
Age and location verifications, safeguards to protect the privacy and security of players – things of that nature.
The monetary incentive behind Pallone’s push is clear.
“You’re talking about a $400-billion-a-year illegal gaming industry,” he said. “This is all done illegally with bookies or organized crime or whatever. The state doesn’t get anything for it, doesn’t benefit in any way, the tax payers don’t benefit in any way, and it’s not (a) good way for people to operate. How do they know whether or not they’re getting any kind of fair play when they have to bet illegally?”
Sports leagues, Pallone said, have not been helpful in this push, often for reasons that he deems illogical.
“The leagues, their arguments are not rational,” he said. “They feel that the players are going to get involved with organized crime. Organized crime runs all the sports betting, so what are you talking about? It doesn’t make any sense. Then the owners started to invest in fantasy sports, so that belied that whole argument. . . . This whole idea that the federal law prohibits sports betting but allows fantasy sports, it just doesn’t make any sense.”
Pallone said there is bipartisan support for GAME, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy to pass. Still, he sees a potential ally in President Donald Trump.
“I’m a Democrat and I’m not fond of his policies at all,” Pallone said, “but I was kind of hoping – and there may still be some hope – that because of his experience with casinos that he might be supportive. So we’re going to try to get him on our side. A lot of members are supportive of this – and that’s Republican and Democrat. I don’t even see a difference between them on this.
“Still, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy-going,” Pallone continued. “I really think that we have to do this legislatively, and I’m not suggesting this is going to happen overnight. I’ve got to build a lot of bipartisan support for this, but I do think that we’re moving in the right direction and we can eventually get these . . . archaic laws against sports betting repealed.”