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Trump boosts prospect of legalised sports betting in the US

The President of the American Gaming Association (AGA) has expressed his belief that Donald Trump taking office could lead to a repeal of federal law barring sports betting in most US states.

Speaking in his year-end conference call, Geoff Freeman referenced Trump’s appearance on the Fox Sports show a year ago, in which the incoming US president made the following comments about sports betting and daily fantasy sports (DFS): “I’m OK with it because it’s happening anyway. Whether you have it (PASPA) or you don’t have it, you have it (sports gambling).’’

There has been interest among television broadcasters and individual team owners in repealing the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which is a federal law allowing sports betting only in Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana.

In fact, the ascension of sports betting into what Freeman calls ‘mainstream acceptance’ took a leap two years ago, when NBA commissioner Adam Silver broke with predecessor David Stern in calling for its legalisation. This mainstream acceptance has been further emphasised by NBA, NHL, MLB and NFL owners partnering with leading DFS companies FanDuel and DraftKings.

Arnie Wexler, co-author of the book ‘All Bets Are Off: Losers, Liars and Recovery from Gambling Addiction’, agreed that sports betting has gone mainstream but rejected an argument put forward by the leagues that that since sports gambling is inevitable, it might as well be regulated.

He described it as ‘hypocrisy’ because leagues such as the NFL have a history of banning players associated with gambling, and reiterated his belief that they are only after a portion of the estimated $95 million in annual money wagered.

A 2015 report by global gaming-research company Gambling Compliance estimated legalised sports betting in America could produce $12.4 billion in annual revenue, which would roughly equal all revenue generated by the NFL.

Wexler, who runs a national 1-888-LASTBET hotline with his wife for those seeking help for gambling addiction, also likened DFS to a ‘gateway drug’ which enables teens and young adults to get hooked on other forms of gambling.

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