The following remarks were delivered by CASE President Matthew Kandrach in Washington, D.C. at the December 6th, 2018 meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures, pertaining to the future of sports betting in the post-PASPA environment:
Good Morning –
My name is Matthew Kandrach. I am the President and co-founder of CASE: Consumer Action for a Strong Economy, a national free-market consumer group that represents the rights and viewpoints of millions of average consumers across our nation.
CASE has a pronounced track record of advocacy for legalized gaming, and shares the view of the majority of Americans who believe that wagering on sporting contests should be a legal and properly regulated activity.
I am here today to inform you of what we believe proper regulation requires; what it looks like, and what it doesn’t look like.
Betting on sports is as old as the games themselves. Today it’s a rapidly growing past time, driven by fans whose passion for professional and amateur sports has never been higher.
Organized sports impacts consumers in a myriad of ways; from the cost of tickets and live attendance, to broadcast and online streaming viewership, to municipal debates on how sporting venues affect the tax base. Aside from the enjoyment Americans receive from watching sports, U.S. consumers have a growing and vested interest in its financial posture.
PASPA, as many will agree, was a bad deal for all but a select few with a protected market or criminal enterprise. Its demise opens the door for sports betting to finally come out of the shadows and take its place as a recognized and mainstream entertainment industry.
What was once a burden to our communities and law enforcement through an unnecessary prohibition can now become a tremendous net positive and a key contributor to our economy and our communities. Just as importantly, the end of PASPA signals the arrival of an industry where consumers can be protected through transactions with known and trusted partners.
A consumer-first approach to sports betting means sensible, fair and low taxation, that doesn’t put licensed gaming companies at a competitive disadvantage with books run by organized crime or anonymous companies overseas.
A consumer-first approach also means light-touch regulation that doesn’t constrain market competition, such as limiting licensed operators to purchasing data from the professional sports leagues.
And a consumer-first approach means the rejection of so-called ‘integrity fees’ that bear no relation whatsoever to the actual integrity of sporting events.
High taxes, heavy regulations, market restrictions and “integrity fees” are – whether intended or not — simply ways to capsize the boat of legalized gaming, and will send consumers overboard. Too much legislative interference, whether through rules, regulations or fees, will only undermine the promise of an open market. But an open and unfettered market is exactly what is needed to not only benefit consumers, but necessary to create jobs and add tax revenue to our local communities for their many priorities.
In its wisdom, the Supreme Court rejected PASPA because it ran afoul of our national framework of federalism that allows the states to operate as individual laboratories of commerce. The objective must be to let the market take root without unnecessary interference, or else the PASPA decision will be for naught.
On behalf of America’s consumers, we urge the NCSL to endorse light-touch regulations across the board on America’s sports wagering industry. Consumers win with regulations that are sufficient to protect our privacy and our transactions, and that are forceful enough to filter out bad actors. But these same regulations need to be broad enough to let consumers and the market decide what works best without too many thumbs on the scale.