Pallone’s Federal ‘GAME Act’ Bill Plans for Post-PASPA US Gambling World

Updated: December 17th, 2017 by Dev Ops

It’s wise to plan ahead, and that applies to regulated online gambling (and sports betting) as well as everything else. Enter the GAME Act, as recently introduced by one of New Jersey’s US Representatives, Frank Pallone.

Amid all the excitement in the United States over the possible demise of PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act), the bill that has blocked most Americans from legally betting on sports for a corner century. Rep. Pallone took advantage of the recent media attention on the US Supreme Court’s hearing of oral arguments in New Jersey’s “Christie II” appeal (which seeks to overturn PASPA), by officially submitting his own online-gambling expansion bill in the US Congress.

US Rep. Frank Pallone

Pallone’s bill is primarily a sports-betting authorization bill, but its framework reaches far beyond just sports betting, because if passed into law it would reaffirm the concept of states rights. That’s the venerable US legal tenet that has long stated that gambling matters in the US are the jurisdiction of the states, and not the federal government. That’s why New Jersey’s attempt to overturn the federal-level PASPA is so important, in so many ways.

Pallone’s GAME Act (or, more formally, the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act) recognizes that the argument about federal control over gambling matters doesn’t involve just sports-betting or just live-casino play. If and when PASPA is repealed — and that’s one of the specific inclusions in Pallone’s bill — there will still be attempts by federal legislators to pass other anti-gambling measures that infringe on thw wishes of individual states.

Suh infringement is at the very heart of the RAWA-styled legislation funded by billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson. The Adelson-purchased RAWA (Restore America’s Wire Act) represent an attempt to ban all online gambling in the US, following in the footsteps of the sports-betting-only PASPA.

Pallone’s GAME Act would short-circuit such commandeering. It’s so central to the bill, in fact, that it’s the first section of the bill other than that declaring the long form of the bill’s formal title. To wit:

Section 2. No Federal liability for gaming activity lawful under State law

(a) In general:

Except as provided in subsection (b) and notwithstanding any other law, a person or governmental entity is not subject to civil or criminal liability under any provision of Federal law for engaging through a gaming facility in gaming activity that is lawful under the law of the State in which such person or governmental entity engages in such activity.

That is designed solely to prevent any form of federal-level infringement — a future RAWA or PASPA II or other such law — to be decreed by the US feds to apply to individual states. Whether or not Pallone’s bill passes isn’t the point; it’s just good to see some proactive thinking on the commandeering issue going on in the halls of the US Congress.

Note that Pallone framed his press announcement to fit into the sports-betting syntax being used with the SCOTUS / Christie II hearing, but there’s more here than just the sports betting. Said Pallone, upon submitting the bill now known as H.R. 4530:

“Today’s argument before the Supreme Court showed there is a serious question as to whether PASPA violates the Constitution and whether New Jersey even violated PASPA in the first place. It is clear to me that PASPA is unconstitutional. I am hopeful that the Supreme Court will decide in New Jersey’s favor, and the GAME Act provides the necessary legal framework for states to move forward.

“The truth is that Americans are already betting up to $400 billion a year on sporting events, but it’s mostly taking place illegally and without consumer protections. It is time to update our laws and bring sports betting out of the shadows. The GAME Act will modernize sports betting regulations and ensure fairness for all states while maintaining transparency and consumer protections.”

We agree, even though the GAME Act has only a slim chance of moving forward. The US’s path toward a regulated online-gambling future has always been a one-state-at-a-time game, and it’s high time that some of the country’s federal lawmakers realize that Washington D.C.’s reach should only extend so far.

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