Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer suggests federal framework for sports betting

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) became the latest member of Congress to put forth specific suggestions for a federal framework for sports betting Wednesday in a memo first provided to ESPN.

Schumer's suggestions include the idea that all sportsbooks only use official league data to determine outcomes and that the sports leagues themselves should be involved in determining what bets would be accepted.

Schumer also suggested leagues would have to reasonably step up monitoring, but did not mention so-called "integrity fees," the idea that leagues should be paid a portion of bets on their sport as compensation for ratcheting up security associated with sports gambling out in the open.

Schumer also puts forth more obvious suggestions, such as making it illegal for anyone under 21 to place a sports bet in any state; requiring entities taking bets to responsibly advertise by not targeting youth and to properly disclose dangers of betting; and reporting suspicious activity and sharing information among sportsbooks, the leagues and state regulators that could help uncover anything that compromises the integrity of games.

Suggesting that legal books would have to use official data could be a huge revenue stream for leagues, but some could also be strongly opposed, reasoning that requiring official data would give the leagues a monopoly and is not integral to the sanctity of a bet.

"As a New York sports fan -- especially my Yankees and Giants -- and a senator, my priority in the wake of the Murphy v. NCAA decision is making sure the integrity of the games we love is preserved, that young people and those suffering from gambling addiction are not taken advantage of, and that consumers that choose to engage in sports betting are appropriately protected," Schumer said in a statement. "With the Supreme Court's ruling, it's incumbent on the federal government to take a leadership role and provide the necessary guidance to prevent uncertainty and confusion for the leagues, state governments, consumers and fans alike."

Three states -- Delaware, New Jersey and Mississippi -- have taken bets since the Murphy v. NCAA, et al. decision, which in May overturned the federal ban on state-sponsored sports betting as a result of the Professional and Amateur Sports Act (PASPA) of 1992. New Jersey, whose fight enabled the overturning of the law, has been the most progressive as the only new state that has offered a mobile product thus far.

Schumer's suggestions are what the sports leagues have advocated -- a national framework so that each state, while they can decide on their own whether they want to take on sports betting, won't be able to make their own rules.

In a joint statement, the NBA, MLB and PGA Tour said they support Schumer's memo.

"As legalized sports betting spreads across the states, there is a need for consistent, nationwide integrity standards to safeguard the sports millions of fans love," the statement said. "We strongly support the legislative framework outlined by Senator Schumer and we encourage Congress to adopt it."

"The stakes are too high -- legal sports betting laws must be crafted and executed in a careful and thoughtful way," Schumer said. "As state legislatures develop new legislation in the weeks and months ahead, I hope they will take these principles under consideration. I also support the efforts in the Congress to debate and develop bipartisan federal legislation that would adhere to these principles. The integrity of sports is too precious to not protect as best we can."

The NFL and NCAA also released a statement later Wednesday.

"Protecting the integrity of our sports is of paramount importance to the NFL and NCAA," they said. "We applaud the leadership demonstrated by Senators (Orrin Hatch, R-Utah) and Schumer in supporting federal legislation to protect the integrity of our games following the Supreme Court decision. Core federal standards are critical to safeguarding the sports we love, the millions of athletes across the country who play these games at all levels and our fans."

The American Gaming Association issued a statement, saying, "The casino gaming industry shares Senator Schumer's goal in preserving the integrity of sporting events and providing consumer protections. Federal oversight of sports betting was an abject failure for 26 years, only contributing to a thriving illegal market with no consumer protections and safeguards. New federal mandates are a nonstarter.

"The casino industry is working with stakeholders to ensure the proper protections for consumers, and the integrity of bets and sporting contests are included in state policy, universally implemented by all operators in those states, and overseen by effective state and tribal gaming regulators."

Given the priorities of Congress and with only four full months left to the current session, it is highly unlikely that any type of bill will be pushed through.

Hatch has said he will be introducing sports betting legislation in the coming weeks, and Congressman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) introduced sports betting legislation in December.