Can Lawmakers Merge Online And Sports Betting ?

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The US Supreme Court issued a decision on Monday that overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (more commonly known as PASPA), a quarter-century-old federal prohibition on sports gambling.

The news has the collective sports and gaming worlds positively abuzz.

Gaming companies saw their stocks soar on the news, and everybody from the NFL to MGM to DraftKings is weighing in on exactly what the SCOTUS decision means.

The decision has also led to rampant speculation on everything from which states will legalize sports gambling in the coming year, to its legislative effect on other types of gambling, particularly internet poker and casino games.

On the latter front, online poker advocates are optimistic that Monday’s ruling is the proverbial “in” for poker legislation.

The concept is that while countries are rushing to legalize sports betting it will create an opportunity for online poker to piggyback sports betting legislation.

True. However, the desire for countries to control sports wagering (which necessarily will include internet/mobile platforms) rises the wave for those countries to also consider iPoker.

— PokerPlayersAlliance (@ppapoker) May 14, 2018

Can online gaming ride sports gambling’s coattails?

The coupling of sports gambling and online poker/gaming might happen in certain states, but it’s more likely to be the exception and not the norm.

In order for sports gambling and online poker to harmoniously merge to a single piece of legislation, several dynamics will need to be set up. Therefore, the pairing of sports gambling and online poker/gaming is extremely state dependent.

Online sports betting Is Vital

First and foremost, online sports betting should be a component of the legislation. Without it, including online casino or poker will be a difficult to impossible lift.

Land-based sports gambling more closely resembles land-based casinos than any online gaming format. Land-based sports gambling and a product like online poker are also dissimilar enough from a regulatory standpoint they can easily be severed.

On the other hand, any state willing to legalize online sports gambling will have to face the question of internet casino and poker. These formats use similar technology (often provided by the exact same company) and need near-identical legislation and regulation.

Furthermore, unlike daily fantasy sports, platforms for internet casino, poker and sports betting would be run by the identical land-based gaming interests.

Two factors to consider

In addition to contemplating online sports gambling, a country will likely need to tick one off, or both of the following boxes to connect online poker/casino to a sports betting bill:

A country in a financial crunch that’s badly in need of every cent of revenue it can find.A say that does not have enough votes to pass sports gambling or online gambling independently.

Pennsylvania provides the perfect example of both of these things at work.

The Pennsylvania model

Pennsylvania was able to pass an omnibus gambling reform/expansion package in 2017 by:

Linking the gambling reforms to the funding of the state budget, which had a enormous shortfall and few options beyond gambling to fund it.Combining gaming reforms to create a invoice where the amount was greater than the parts.

It was a perfect storm for Pennsylvania. The budget shortfall provided the urgency, while the multiple parts provided the bargaining chips to gather enough support to get the measure passed.

The majority of the components of the gaming bill Pennsylvania passed were unlikely to pass on their own (a few were broadly popular and likely included to increase support), but collectively the different elements of the bill — including online gambling, online lottery, sports betting, DFS and land-based growth — were able to appeal to enough lawmakers to get the bill passed.

The bottom line

States that shy away from online sports gambling are unlikely to merge sports and internet poker/casino collectively, but in the states where online sports gambling is on the table, online casino and poker games will almost certainly be discussed.

There will also undoubtedly be states where a group of lawmakers want to legalize sports gambling, and a separate group need to legalize online gambling. The two groups likely have a whole lot of overlap, but the overlap is far from 100 percent.

That provides a chance to bring together some strange bedfellows, because there could be sufficient pro-sports/anti-poker and pro-poker/anti-sports legislators ready to take part in a quid pro quo in order to get what they want.

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