Federal Sports Betting Bill Needs More Protections

Yesterday Senators Hatch (R-UT) and Schumer (D-NY) revealed the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018. The bill seeks to establish federal standards for states that wish to legalize sports betting. Brian Hess, Executive Director of SFC, said the following:

“Any sports betting legalization must include robust consumer protections. This bill is an improvement from initial drafts but Sports Fans Coalition will push lawmakers to include all elements of the Sports Bettors' Bill of Rights.”

The bill includes a few elements of the Sports Bettors’ Bill of Rights developed by Sports Fans Coalition after an in-depth policy round-table at the George Washington University Law School.  Although the Schumer/Hatch bill appropriately creates a national self-exclusion list, prohibits burdensome restrictions on fund withdrawals, requires transparency of operators, and includes strong protections for at-risk and problem gamblers, the bill misses the mark in a few areas:

  1. Personal data. The bill requires an operator to “take reasonable steps” to protect a user’s data but does not prohibit the sharing of data to third parties, or give a bettor the “right to be forgotten.”
  2. Consumer recourse. The bill fails to protect a bettor’s individual right to recourse. It only gives a state regulatory authority the power to push back against operators.
  3. Leagues’ data monopoly. The bill gives the leagues a de facto monopoly on data. It requires sports betting operators to purchase data for wagers from league sources.

On the subject of sports leagues’ data monopoly, Hess said, “we’ve long fought league power grabs, and this is just the latest such attempt. For decades, the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL fought any attempt to legalize sports betting. Now that they can get a piece of the action, they’ve changed their tune.”

There is a lot of room for improvement in Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act. However, it is a well-considered first attempt to regulate an emerging market. SFC is committed to improving this bill by enhancing its protections and pushing back against the leagues’ power grab.



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