Sen. McCain Calls on Congress to Hold Hearings on Expansion of Sports Betting Law

Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, the legislator who made headlines in September 2013 for playing poker on his mobile phone during a U.S. Senate Committee Hearing on Foreign Relations, has once again caught the attention of the U.S. gambling industry. In a Capital Games podcast hosted by Andy Katz of ESPN and Rick Klein of ABC, Senator McCain said Congress needs to hold hearings and discussions on the issue of allowing the American people to engage in legalized sports betting activities outside of the State of Nevada.

Although the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 allows sports betting in three other U.S. states, there are limitations in the forms of sports gambling activities available in the States of Delaware, Montana and Oregon, rendering Nevada, as the only region that benefits from single-match sports betting. When asked to give enlightenment on why it has to be so, Senator McCain quipped that, it is exactly the point he is driving at, and considers the matter an excellent issue for a debate in Congress.

The Republican Senator from Arizona recognizes the fact that substantial amounts of money exchange hands in sports betting activities, particularly for American football. He cited the latest figures reported by the Nevada Gaming Control that in 2014, as much as $3.9 billion were placed as bets in Nevada-based sports book facilities.

Actually, the Capital Games podcast episode was mainly to discuss how the year’s chain of controversies affected the National Football League (NFL). As it is, his home state played host to the Super Bowl last weekend and the senator has been critical of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. He believes that the NFL’s slow response to the NFL scandals has cast a cloud of doubt over the country’s biggest yearly sporting event.

The Arizona Senator’s mention of the “Deflate-gate” issue, referring to the New England Patriot’s use of footballs, which to some extent were deflated, had led the discussion toward the issue of legalized sports betting in the U.S. He said the Senate has spent a lot of time discussing the “Deflate-gate” scandal, indicating one of two things; the Senate does not have enough to do or that the American people are showing deep concern over the “Deflate-gate” issue. After all, the Patriot’s victory in the AFC Championship gave the team a place in the Super Bowl competition.

Those being the case, the senator added that he would like to witness congressional hearings that deal with the country’s legalized sports betting and the need to expand its coverage; given the enormous sums involved in relation to wagers placed on sporting events such as the Super Bowl, but through illegal betting channels.

The Pres. and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA) Geoff Freeman, one of the guests in the Capital Games podcast, conveyed that he is glad to see the beginnings of discussions about expanded sports betting. The AGA has been wary of the billions wagered illegally on sports matches, to which Congress has not shown any signs of making a move to address the expansion issues pushed individually by U.S. States, especially New Jersey and Delaware.

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