A draft bill circulating through the US Congress would radically reshape the way regulated sports is implemented across the country by requiring federal approval in new markets. Other aspects of the proposed bill include a professional sports league-friendly clause that forces bookmakers to buy data from the leagues; as well as a version of the classic bad actors clause, according to a series of Tweets by ESPN reporter David Purdum.

The bill is the brainchild of Utah Senator Orrin Hatch (R) whose, entirely-too-long, Senate career is ending at the conclusion of the current lame duck session. It should be noted that as a Senator from the great state of Utah, Hatch does not represent anyone who can legally gamble as his is just one of two US States that do not offer any forms of legal gambling – including lotteries.

Perhaps the most chilling aspect of Hatch’s bill is that it requires all states that want to implement sports betting to receive approval from the US Attorney General before doing so. The AG would have 180 days to make his decision and would then re-approve the decision every three years. This action completely undermines the spirit of the Supreme Court decision that opened the path to regulated US sports betting in the first place by leaving the decision with the states.

The bill gets worse as kisses the ring of the professional sports leagues by requiring all US sports betting operators to purchase their data-streams from the leagues. This gift to NFL team owners and other billionaires is something the leagues have tried unsuccessfully to pry from the states for quite some time.

Hatch gets into the spirit of internationalism in the bill by all but banning any foreign operators from the US market by prohibiting non-domestic domain names from using the same backends as US domains. He also wants to impose a bad actors clause by barring any operator who took bets from US citizens after 2006.

Hatch’s efforts at stifling sports betting aren’t likely to go far in the upcoming lame duck session. After all, this is a legislative body that’s struggled to pass bills that do things its members actually want to do…like preventing poor people from accessing healthcare.


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