Legislation Plus Another Suspension Add To U.S. Sports-Betting Woes

July 26, 2023
As the U.S. sports-betting industry prepares for another bumper season of wagers on college and professional football, recent developments in Congress and the National Football League threaten to cast a pall on the industry’s future prosperity.


As the U.S. sports-betting industry prepares for another bumper season of wagers on college and professional football, recent developments in Congress and the National Football League (NFL) could threaten the industry’s future prosperity.

On July 20, three U.S. senators — two Democrats and one Republican — unveiled draft legislation calling for federal oversight of financial activity related to the name, image and likeness (NIL) of college athletes.

Potentially worrisome for the gaming industry is language in the draft bill creating the “College Athletics Corporation,” a non-government group with investigative and subpoena powers.

Although there does not yet appear to be a nexus between NIL and sports betting, one of the three sponsors of the draft bill is Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, arguably the most aggressive critic in Congress of sports gambling.

Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey and Republican Jerry Moran of Kansas are the other two senators sponsoring the NIL bill.

Meanwhile, Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, the former head football coach at Auburn University, and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia have drafted their own version of a NIL bill as has Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

The NIL bills are “filled with non-starters,” and “unlikely to pass,” according to John Holden, an associate professor in the department of management at Oklahoma State University.

“I think the only thing that moves the needle on federal legislation would be a match-fixing scandal,” Holden told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.

“Short of that, I cannot see Congress managing to get enough votes in either the House or Senate to get anything done,” he said.

The American Gaming Association (AGA) already prohibits sportsbooks from negotiating NIL deals with college athletes, according to Chris Cylke, the AGA’s senior vice president of government relations.

Another development causing concern for the sports-betting industry is the NFL's indefinite suspension on Monday (July 24) of Denver Broncos’ defensive end Eyioma Uwazurike for betting on NFL games.

The NFL did not say if Uwazurike bet on his own team’s games, but he will not be allowed to apply for reinstatement until July 2024.

This is the tenth sports-betting suspension in the NFL since April.

The NFL suspended wide receiver Calvin Ridley for the entire 2022 season for betting on league games when he was a member of the Atlanta Falcons. Ridley has since been traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"Suspensions like this are indicators that the guardrails of the legal marketplace are working to protect the integrity of competitions — the shared top priority for leagues, sportsbooks and the entire sports-betting ecosystem,” said Cylke.

Yet another example of widespread sports-betting violations came to light on July 12 when the Associated Press reported the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has found 175 violations of its wagering policy since 2018, resulting in 17 active investigations.

NCAA president Charlie Baker revealed the violations and investigations in a letter earlier this month to Democratic Congresswoman Dina Titus, who represents Las Vegas.

“I appreciate Congress’ increased attention to the topic of sports betting,” Baker said in his letter to Titus.

“I agree with you, that in addition to the opportunities it creates, sports betting brings risk that could undermine the integrity of competition,” Baker said.

Titus’ office did not respond to requests from VIXIO to interview the congresswoman.

However, in a tweet regarding Baker’s letter, she said: “Now that we have answers from the NCAA, I need to hear from professional sports leagues about their efforts to protect players and the public from illegal activities.”

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