Like addicts crave the needle, politicians crave other people’s money and power. It should surprise exactly no one, then, that Congress appears poised to stick its vast and slimy tentacles into the sports betting business.
In May, the Supreme Court overturned a federal law banning sports wagering in most states. The decision paved the way for the expansion of an industry that had previously been confined primarily to Nevada and offshore books. And surely you didn’t think the federal government could resist the temptation to intervene.
On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, came forth with the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018. It’s a sop to the major professional sports leagues, which have been attempting to shake down the growing industry for a share of the take. The legislation would create a framework for federal regulation of sports betting and require sports book operators to pay leagues for data.
Sen. Schumer attempted to justify the measure on the grounds of consumer protection. That’s a crock. It’s a solution in search of a problem and symptomatic of Washington’s insatiable urge to meddle. Can a new federal tax be far behind?
The matter should be left to the states. Nevada has successfully licensed sports books for decades without federal oversight. Since the Supreme Court’s ruling, several gaming companies have already cut deals with leagues regarding sports statistics, indicating the process is moving along just fine absent babysitting by Beltway politicians and bureaucrats.
Republicans and the Trump administration have worked to chip away at the overweening administrative state. They have another chance to keep it in check by making sure this measure dies of neglect.