Press releases 23rd September 2015

U.S. Congressman: Bring Sports Betting “Out of the Shadows”

Speaking during a roundtable discussion on the legalisation of sports betting in the United States, Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-06) urged federal authorities to introduce legislation to legalise sport betting in the United States, as well as calling for a Congressional hearing to discuss fantasy (American) football. Speaking on a panel hosted by the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS), which included Chris Eaton, ICSS Executive Director for Integrity, David Purdum, ESPN gambling reporter and Les Bernal, National Director for the advocacy group, Stop Predatory Gambling, Pallone’s call to action follows on from last month’s 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals motion to rule against a state-wide law that would legalise sport betting across New Jersey – a decision Pallone has condemned.

Speaking during a one-on-one interview with American political commentator James Carville, Congressman Frank Pallone said: “History tells us that whether its alcohol or gambling, people will still find a way to engage. We don’t want organised crime to profit from that tendency, which is exactly why we need to bring sports betting out from the shadows and regulate it.”

Pallone’s remarks about regulating sport betting in the US were echoed by Chris Eaton, ICSS Executive Director for Integrity, who added: “Gambling, like drinking during prohibition, is something people will always find a way to do. By pretending it isn’t happening, the government opens the door to corruption. The key is to regulate, monitor and bring sports betting out of the shadows.”

Eaton noted that some experts estimate that the U.S. wagers an estimated $500 billion on sports each year, with approximately 80 percent of those bets being made illegally. Eaton added: “That’s a lot of money ending up in the hands of organized criminals who have a never-ending source of financing their illegal, often violent operations. We need federal policies that address this problem of corruption – and can regulate it instead into a positive opportunity.” Pallone also commented on a number of other policy ideas, including his recent calls for a Congressional hearing on fantasy football, saying “The reason why sports leagues like fantasy sports is because they have invested in it.”

However, fellow panelist Les Bernal, National Director for Stop Predatory Gambling, disagreed with the position that sports betting should be regulated, stressing that “solutions” to regulating sport betting in the United States can be just as worrisome – or worse. Bernal said: “In a time when leaders from both parties are highlighting how our system is rigged against everyday people, state-sponsored casinos and lotteries are the prime example. If you can’t stop illegal operators how can you stop those that are licensed to abuse the rules? There’s no debate that generally public policy at the moment is contributing to rising unfairness and inequality in American life. Allowing government to add sports gambling to its arsenal will enrich a privileged few at the expense of everyone else, including the two-thirds of Americans who never gamble.”

The issue of regulating sports betting is just one of many areas the ICSS is working on. The topic of sport betting in the United States – as well as other critical aspects facing security, transparency and legacy of sport – will be discussed further at the ICSS’s annual conference ‘Securing Sport’, which takes place on November 3-4, 2015 in New York City.

• This media release was sent out via email by the International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS) on 22 September 2015.

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