The ‘Trump’ Question and Sports Betting in America

It’s time to take a look across the Atlantic, where the United States of America is just a few weeks away from doing the globally unthinkable: inaugurating Donald Trump as the next US President. All gagging aside – and to this author, pretty much anything to do with Trump causes a massive gag reflex – there’s still one very important question that the gambling world will be asking in the next month or two: Where will Donald Trump land on the issue of expanded, legalized sports betting in the United States?

statue_of_liberty_2There isn’t a major European bookmaker that wouldn’t love to take part in a greatly opened US sports-betting market. A handful, such as William Hill, which operates kiosks at many small casinos in Nevada, have already established such toeholds in US markets. But those US markets are very limited: Nevada is the only US state that allows the type of single-event sports betting that European punters take for granted, and a very limited form of parlay betting is available in just three other small-population US states.

The US’s conservative, political right has maintained a rigid blockade against the expansion of sports betting elsewhere, as the state of New Jersey, whose voters approved Nevada-style (or Europe-style, if you prefer) sports betting five years ago, but have been stymied in the courts, both by the conservative US pols and by the US’s major sports leagues, led by the NFL.

Into all that comes Trump, a former casino owner and a huckster of the first order, who promises to take the country (and possibly the world) to depths as yet unplumbed. Nonetheless, amid all the other stupidity, Trump has repeatedly stated that he’d prefer is sports betting in the US was legalized at the federal level.

Since the election (or whatever that was that passed for it), the US’s punters have held up Trump’s words as perhaps heralding that long-awaited opening of the US market. Even the American Gaming Association, the US’s leading corporate lobbying group on behalf of the country’s casino interests, has ballyhooed the possibility of legalized US sports betting once the Trump clan occupies the White House next month.

Sad to say, don’t believe the hype. While it’s true that Trump likely spoke what he believes on the topic, the administration he’s in the process of assembling is about as rabidly anti-gambling and anti-sports betting as it gets. That starts with his Vice President-elect, Mike Pence. One can mock Pence for his out-of-the-mainstream, far-right religious beliefs – he’s one of those “the Earth is 6,000 years old” types, and he is also a proponent of gay conversion therapy, in which gays are subject to repeated electroshock therapy as a means to correct their fondness for a same-sex partner. Given such simplistic, backward and frankly uneducated thinking, it’s little surprise to know that Pence is against all forms of gambling as a religious sin. And Pence is supposed to be the one running many of Trump’s domestic programs.

Pence is also onboard as one of the supporters of the Sheldon Adelson sponsored “RAWA” legislation, which is already slated for US Congressional debate in 2017. “RAWA” stands for “Restore America’s Wire Act,” referring to an antiquated 1961 law that bans gambling (including on sports) over any communications medium, such as a phone. The original Wire Act was enacted to help curb the Mafia’s massive organized-crime reach in that era, but as it’s been re-envisioned it’s much more: a ban on virtually all forms of online gambling within the US.

The bill has been sponsored and put before the US Congress several times now by Adelson, the billionaire chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp. who imagines that all those betting dollars not wagered online – or through the US’s multi-billion-dollar, clandestine sports betting industry, will somehow wind up at Adelson’s Venetian and Palazzo properties in Las Vegas.

Yet Adelson has also been a Republican Party mega-donor for nearly two decades. Adelson may, in fact, have spent more over the past 15 years than any other single political donor. In this last US Presidential election, Adelson poured $25 million of his own money into a super-”PAC” (political action group) that attacked Hillary Clinton and supported Trump.

Adelson has made it clear he expects his owesies, and that means the passage of this RAWA bill and the barring of the US online-gambling market for at least the next several years. Legalized sports betting’s possible expansion within such a negative political environment, should Adelson get his wish, will be all but nil.

Then there’s the leagues themselves, notably the National Football League, which is every bit as adamant against legal sports wagering expansion as Adelson, albeit it for different reasons. In the NFL’s case, however, political watchers believe it’s because the league hasn’t figured out a sure way to cash in on the wagering activity. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, in particular, espouses this hardline stance, and as long as he remains commish and the league enjoys its incredible political lobbying power in the US, the sports-betting blockade is likely to remain in place.

With all those factors in play, it’s hard to be bullish on sports betting’s prospects for expansion in the US, at least in the short term. The only chance may be a legal victory by New Jersey or some other state that finally nullifies the law built on the old Wire Act framwork, the 1982 PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) law, that continues to limit sports betting to, basically, Nevada.

Pundits who suggest the US is 50:50 or better to legalize sports betting in the next few years, during Trump’s term in office, are likely being too optimistic. The true range of such an expansion happening, in percentage terms, is somewhere between 10 and 25%. That’s because the forces aligned against such an expansion not only remain entrenched, but they’re stronger than ever.yhooed the possibility of legalized US sports betting once the Trump clan occupies the White House next month.

Sad to say, don’t believe the hype. While it’s true that Trump likely spoke what he believes on the topic, the administration he’s in the process of assembling is about as rabidly anti-gambling and anti-sports betting as it gets. That starts with his Vice President-elect, Mike Pence. One can mock Pence for his out-of-the-mainstream, far-right religious beliefs – he’s one of those “the Earth is 6,000 years old” types, and he is also a proponent of gay conversion therapy, in which gays are subject to repeated electroshock therapy as a means to correct their fondness for a same-sex partner. Given such simplistic, backward and frankly uneducated thinking, it’s little surprise to know that Pence is against all forms of gambling as a religious sin. And Pence is supposed to be the one running many of Trump’s domestic programs.

Pence is also onboard as one of the supporters of the Sheldon Adelson sponsored “RAWA” legislation, which is already slated for US Congressional debate in 2017. “RAWA” stands for “Restore America’s Wire Act,” referring to an antiquated 1961 law that bans gambling (including on sports) over any communications medium, such as a phone. The original Wire Act was enacted to help curb the Mafia’s massive organized-crime reach in that era, but as it’s been re-envisioned it’s much more: a ban on virtually all forms of online gambling within the US.

The bill has been sponsored and put before the US Congress several times now by Adelson, the billionaire chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp. who imagines that all those betting dollars not wagered online – or through the US’s multi-billion-dollar, clandestine sports betting industry, will somehow wind up at Adelson’s Venetian and Palazzo properties in Las Vegas.

Yet Adelson has also been a Republican Party mega-donor for nearly two decades. Adelson may, in fact, have spent more over the past 15 years than any other single political donor. In this last US Presidential election, Adelson poured $25 million of his own money into a super-”PAC” (political action group) that attacked Hillary Clinton and supported Trump.

Adelson has made it clear he expects his owesies, and that means the passage of this RAWA bill and the barring of the US online-gambling market for at least the next several years. Legalized sports betting’s possible expansion within such a negative political environment, should Adelson get his wish, will be all but nil.

Then there’s the leagues themselves, notably the National Football League, which is every bit as adamant against legal sports wagering expansion as Adelson, albeit it for different reasons. In the NFL’s case, however, political watchers believe it’s because the league hasn’t figured out a sure way to cash in on the wagering activity. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, in particular, espouses this hardline stance, and as long as he remains commish and the league enjoys its incredible political lobbying power in the US, the sports-betting blockade is likely to remain in place.

With all those factors in play, it’s hard to be bullish on sports betting’s prospects for expansion in the US, at least in the short term. The only chance may be a legal victory by New Jersey or some other state that finally nullifies the law built on the old Wire Act framwork, the 1982 PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) law, that continues to limit sports betting to, basically, Nevada.

Pundits who suggest the US is 50:50 or better to legalize sports betting in the next few years, during Trump’s term in office, are likely being too optimistic. The true range of such an expansion happening, in percentage terms, is somewhere between 10 and 25%. That’s because the forces aligned against such an expansion not only remain entrenched, but they’re stronger than ever.

Donald Trump
Mike Pence
online
PASPA
Sheldon Adelson
sports betting
Trump
United States
US
Wire Act

Previous article

BetStars Parent Amaya Stays Public as Former CEO Baazov Drops Bid

Next article

Cold Turkey for Burton in Boxing Day Villa Clash

SBO.net Bookie Selector

Our Bookie selector is designed to find the perfect place for you to bet. Simply answer a few quick questions and we’ll choose the best online bookmaker for you.

  • Just 30 seconds to complete
  • Only safe and secure sites
  • Researched by our expert team
Let's start!