At this point in the season, the NFL’s top teams are jockeying for playoff position and preparing to make a run at the Lombardi Trophy.
And as luck would have it, the Week 13 schedule offers a postseason preview of sorts – as five high-profile games pit winning teams against one another.
To kick off the early slate of games, the Atlanta Falcons (7-4) host the Minnesota Vikings (9-2) in a battle of well-balanced teams.
Atlanta currently sports the 11th-ranked scoring offense at 24.1 points per game, and while that’s down from last season’s high-octane performance, the Falcons are benefiting from the 13th-ranked defense (20.9 points per game).
Minnesota is enjoying similar symmetry, with the 8th-ranked scoring offense (24.6) and the 5th-ranked defense (17.7). The surprising rise of career backup Case Keenum to the realm of elite quarterbacks has been the story, but as usual, head coach Mike Zimmer has the defense playing with passion.
The Vikes have won seven straight games, and even better for bettors, they’ve covered six straight against the spread.
An eighth straight victory is guaranteed to extend the covering streak too, as the latest lines posted by online sportsbook Bovada have Minnesota as 3-point road underdogs.
Next up, the Buffalo Bills (6-5) host the New England Patriots (9-2) in an AFC East “rivalry” that’s been anything but since Bill Belichick arrived in Foxboro. Since his tenure began in 2000, Belichick has simply dominated the Bills, to the tune of a 29-5 overall record.
That includes a five-game winning streak in Buffalo, during which time the Pats offense has averaged 38.6 points per game.
The Bills are 4-1 at home this year, but those victories came against low-powered offenses like the Jets, Broncos, Buccaneers, and Raiders. In their only home loss thus far, Buffalo was bombarded by the Saints in a 47-10 rout, which doesn’t bode well for the Bills as another top-tier offense comes to town.
Accordingly, the Bills find themselves as big-time 9-point home dogs here, even as they find themselves in the thick of the AFC Wild Card race.
Speaking of that race, the Bills are tied with the Baltimore Ravens (6-5) in the standings, but that could change quickly based on their history against New England. And if the Bills do wind up at .500 by week’s end, the Ravens could take a firm grip on a postseason bid by beating the Detroit Lions (6-5).
This one’s going down in Baltimore, where the Ravens just dismissed the Houston Texans (4-7) in a 23-16 defensive slugfest on Monday Night Football. That’s been par for the course for the Ravens, who are surrendering just under 10 points per contest during a 3-1 jag.
Detroit is also 3-1 over its last four games, but the Lions were slain by the Vikings on Thanksgiving Day in their last outing.
That means Detroit is fresh from a proverbial “mini-bye” with nine days of rest in between games, while Baltimore must cope with a short six-day week.
Even so, the consensus line has the Lions as 3-point road dogs despite the disparity in downtime.
The New Orleans Saints (8-3) host the Carolina Panthers in an afternoon affair, and the winner immediately takes the inside track towards an NFC South title.
That’s a shock to most pigskin pundits, given the Saints and Panthers finished last season at 7-9 and 6-10, respectively.
Both teams have used the ground game to get ahead, with New Orleans ranked third overall at 142.1 rushing yards per game, and Carolina close behind in fifth (129.2). But with quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Cam Newton under center, the potential for aerial attacks is always there – which goes a long way in explaining these rivals’ shared success this season.
With the raucous Superdome crowd on their side, the Saints are tabbed as 4.5-point favorites at Bovada.
To cap off the Sunday fun, the Seattle Seahawks (7-4) host the Philadelphia Eagles (10-1) in a game that very well may have implications on eventual NFC playoff seeding.
Obviously, the Eagles have the East locked down, but the Seahawks have been battered by injuries and currently sit in seventh place in the conference standings.
With the Legion of Boom broken up by major injuries to Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, the Eagles have the 6-point edge here, even heading into CenturyLink Field’s infamously hostile conditions.
Another week of dominant defensive football sees Alabama (2-0) return to the top of the Associated Press (AP) rankings, following a 41-10 walkover against Fresno State (1-1).
Head coach Nick Saban has his ballhawks firing on all cylinders, having already beaten then third-ranked Florida State (0-1) while giving up just a single score in a 24-7 victory.
The Crimson Tide’s defensive prowess will be somewhat tested this week, when Colorado State (2-1) comes to Tuscaloosa. The Rams have put up 58- and 38-point performances to start the season, and they topped the 40-point plateau six times last year.
Even so, online sportsbook Bovada doesn’t give Colorado State much of a chance to light up the scoreboard against Alabama, as the Tide are rated as heavy 29.5-point home favorites.
By winning the season’s first true clash of titans – a 31-16 road upset last Saturday over then second-ranked Ohio State (1-1) – Oklahoma (2-0) claimed that spot for themselves, moving up three positions in the AP rankings.
The Sooners will get a breather this time around, with Tulane (1-1) of the American Athletic Conference coming to town. After defeating a powerhouse like the Buckeyes, Oklahoma will no doubt be looking to avoid a letdown – especially with a Big 12 showdown against Baylor next on the schedule – so seeing the Sooners as 35.5-point home favorites isn’t all that surprising.
Clemson (2-0) may not have star quarterback Deshaun Watson under center this season, but the defending National Champions have adjusted on the fly, beating then 12th-ranked Auburn (1-1) in a tight 14-6 game last Saturday.
That win put the Tigers on a collision course with an ACC rival this week, as Clemson visits 14th ranked Louisville (2-0) in a battle of big-time offenses. Clemson is averaging 35.0 points and 473 yards per game, which somehow pales in comparison to Louisville’s 41.0 points and 614.5 yards per.
Sufficed to say, the scoring will come fast and furious in this one, but Bovada believes the game will stay close throughout. With the experience edge, and defending champ chip on their shoulder, Clemson has been installed as slight 3.5-point road favorites.
One of the more highly touted non-conference rivalries in recent college football memory pits Texas (0-2) against USC (2-0), with an epic 41-38 win in the 2006 Rose Bowl giving the Longhorns bragging rights a decade later.
Leaving aside the brewing controversy over vacated wins for a moment, that rivalry has lost its luster of late, as both Texas and USC have struggled to maintain their elite standing. The Longhorns stumbled to a 5-7 record last season, while the Trojans went 1-3 before winning out.
This year, it looks to be more of the same for Texas, which lost 51-41 to Maryland (2-0) opening week. And while a 56-0 whitewashing last week over San Jose State (1-2) helped right the ship, Texas will be traveling into the lion’s den of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to face a hungry USC squad.
The Trojans are the AP’s fourth-ranked team following last week’s 42-24 dismissal of then 14th-ranked Stanford (1-1), a win made more impressive by virtue of coming on the road. USC finished last season ranked third by the AP, and a win this week would likely put them back there – especially if Louisville manages to knock off Clemson.
The halcyon days of 2006 are long gone for the Longhorns, who will head to L.A. as 16.5-point road underdogs.
The only other matchup of ranked teams this week involves two teams on the fringe, with 23rd-ranked Tennessee (2-0) taking on 24th-ranked Florida (0-1). The Volunteers have hit 42 points in both of their wins, while the Gators mustered only three scoring plays in a 33-17 season opening loss to then 11th-ranked Michigan (2-0).
Florida’s game last week was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma, so the Gators should be the fresher team as 4.5-point home favorites.
Baseball bat Commish Silver Says Sports Betting Regulations Will Change; Anticipating Online gaming Pretty sure
Speaking alongside his fellow commissioners from North America’s “big four” professional sports leagues, Adam Silver of the National Basketball Association (NBA) continued his league’s steady support for federal sports betting legalization.
Silver appeared at the Paley Center for Media in New York City on July 18, joining his counterparts Rob Manfred of Major League Baseball (MLB), Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League (NHL), and Roger Goodell of the National Football League (NFL).
The foursome formed a joint panel entitled “GameChangers: Creating the Future of Sports,” with each Commissioner taking questions on the evolution of their respective leagues.
Asked about his stance on the federal sports betting ban known as PAPSA – or the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 – Silver expressed confidence that repeal was an eventuality, and not mere possibility:
“My sense is the law will change in the next few years in the United States.
People want to bet throughout the game … It results in enormous additional engagement with the fans.”
Silver has been an outspoken critic of PAPSA since assuming the role of NBA Commissioner in February of 2014. Later than year, he famously penned an op-ed for the New York Times which was titled simply “Legalize and Regulate Sports Betting.”
In the piece, Silver outlined his opposition to PAPSA – and his support for legalized sports betting – thusly:
“Times have changed since PAPSA was enacted. Gambling has increasingly become a popular and accepted form of entertainment in the United States. Most states offer lotteries. Over half of them have legal casinos. Three have approved some form of Internet gambling, with others poised to follow.
There is an obvious appetite among sports fans for a safe and legal way to wager on professional sporting events. Mainstream media outlets regularly publish sports betting lines and point spreads.”
Silver has stepped up his public support for sports betting reform in recent months, as the state of New Jersey has seen its own challenge to PAPSA taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court. That case originated in 2011, after New Jersey’s voters passed a statewide sports betting referendum, which was later signed into law by Governor Chris Christie.
In response, the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) joined forces with the four major professional leagues to sue Christie and New Jersey. Six years later, following a series of rulings against the state, the Supreme Court will decide once and for all whether PAPSA holds the authority to ban statewide sports betting industries.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who assumed office in 2015 well after his league joined the lawsuit, has also joined the chorus with public statements in support of sports betting reform. Earlier this month, he made headlines by stating that MLB would want input on any federal regulations overseeing the sports betting industry.
During the Paley Center panel, Manfred echoed Silver’s comments regarding so-called “in-game” or “live” wagers – which concern single moments during a game and not the final score:
“There’s a difference between someone betting on whether the next ball is a strike or betting on the outcome of a game.”
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who last year approved the league’s latest expansion franchise being placed in Las Vegas, was also asked about sports betting, but his response was tepid compared to Silver and Manfred:
“We’re a small part of betting compared to football and basketball. I don’t worry about fixing games.”
As for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who approved the relocation of the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas in May of this year, he elected to offer a strict no comment on the subject. Back in April, Goodell stated publicly that the NFL remains opposed to any PAPSA repeal efforts, despite adding a second professional sports franchise to the Sin City landscape.
The first legal casino in America to be built outside of Nevada marked another milestone on Monday, when Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City became the first venue outside of the Silver State to offer legal betting on daily fantasy sports (DFS).
Working in conjunction with Washington D.C.-based company Sport Analytics & Data Corp (SportAD), Resorts launched the new FastPick sports betting product on July 17.
As of now, the game based on selecting head-to-head DFS matchups against the house is offered exclusively through the ResortsCasino.com online platform. However, as reported by Legal Sports Report, the brick and mortar casino has already experimented with a soft launch of live FastPick – setting the stage for casino patrons to place bets on DFS in New Jersey for the first time.
Players taking part in a FastPick wager are presented with 10 head-to-head matchups involving athletes within a particular sport. The objective is to select at least three players, or anywhere up to 10, with the house taking the other player in each matchup. From there, traditional DFS scoring is used to attribute points to each player based on their real-world performance in that day’s games.
The three-or-more pick requirement essentially turns FastPick into a parlay wager, as all associated matchups must be won in order to collect a payout. For now, wagers are capped between $ 10 and $ 200, with a maximum payout of $ 100,000 should a 10-player slate prove successful.
Joe Brennan Jr., who serves as chief executive officer for SportAD, issued a press release to announce FastPick’s launch:
“We are very excited about this launch with Resorts Gaming, which has a reputation of bringing innovative gaming content to market in both their casino and online.
With plenty of MLB baseball right now, and the NFL football and European Soccer seasons about to start, the ‘FastPick’ brand is in a strong position to capitalize on the daily fantasy sports market and attract players looking for a more fun and simple way to enjoy real-money sports games.”
Ed Andrewes, an iGaming industry consultant currently representing Resorts Digital Gaming, released a statement which framed FastPick as an alternative to traditional DFS platforms like DraftKings and FanDuel:
“We want to appeal to sports fans who want to get a piece of the action but don’t have the time to compete effectively against the traditional ‘professional’ DFS player.
We are thrilled to partner with SportAD to introduce the next generation of Fantasy Sports to our casinos as well as online and mobile.”
Mark Giannantonio, president and chief executive officer for Resorts, also went on record to praise his casino’s adoption of FastPick:
“I’m very excited about this new business. We expect it to be exciting for our online customers, and soon, for those who play at our casino.
The idea has always been for the brick and mortar casino to be integrated as much as possible with our online business.”
Given the current timing, bettors have only Major League Baseball (MLB) matchups to choose from, but FastPick is designed to offer a multitude of additional contests – including the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL), and Major League Soccer (MLS).
FastPick has been approved by the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), and in New Jersey, DFS contests are considered to be legal according to the state’s attorney general.
The New Jersey Legislature also passed a bill to officially legalize and regulate DFS in June of this year, which awaits only a signature from Governor Chris Christie before becoming law.
MLB Commissioner Paul Manfred Says League Wants Input on Potential Federal Sports Betting Regulation
Continuing his organization’s slow but steady pivot away from outright opposition to sports betting, Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner Paul Manfred recently explained that he’d prefer to collaborate on any potential rollback of the current federal prohibition.
As he met with members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BWAA) to discuss wide-ranging issues impacting the league, Manfred mentioned that MLB would continue to monitor a lawsuit filed against Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey – of which MLB is a plaintiff.
That suit was filed in 2012, with MLB joining the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Hockey League (NHL) in objecting to New Jersey’s passage of statewide sports betting legalization.
But the MLB commissioner at that time was Bud Selig, a strict anti-gambling figure who opposed all inroads to legalized sports betting. Upon assuming the commissioner’s mantle in 2015, Manfred shifted the league’s public stance on the subject, falling closely in line with his counterpart Adam Silver of the NBA – who wrote an op-ed calling for federal sports betting regulation which was published by the New York Times in 2014.
District and appeals courts consistently ruled in favor of the leagues, but Christie and New Jersey continued the appeals process, and in June of this year the United States Supreme Court decided to hear the case.
Speaking to the BWAA, Manfred said the league “is tracking” the Supreme Court case – which has initial briefs scheduled for August 10, followed by oral arguments later in the year – but his comments seemed to suggest that MLB is preparing for the future:
“If there’s going to be a change in the regulatory structure with respects to sports gambling, we needed to be in a position to meaningfully engage and shape, try to shape what the new regulatory scheme looks like.
We’re in the process of talking to our owners and figuring out where we want to be in the event that there is in fact a significant change coming.”
The change in regulations referenced by Manfred alludes to the potential repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) of 1992, which bars sports betting throughout the country. Under PAPSA, only four states are legally permitted to regulate sports betting (Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana), and only then due to being “grandfathered in.”
Should the Supreme Court rule in favor of Christie and New Jersey, their ruling would necessarily strike down PAPSA’s overreaching authority on a state’s right to regulate the sports betting industry.
And even if the leagues’ original lawsuit and subsequent court victories are upheld, Congress is currently considering the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement (GAME) Act – a bill introduced this May by Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ). If the GAME Act is authorized, and signed into law by President Donald Trump, it would explicitly repeal PAPSA.
In a statement announcing the bill’s introduction, Rep. Pallone outlined the reasoning behind legalizing sports betting nationwide:
“Despite the federal gaming laws in place today, Americans are betting up to $ 400 billion a year on sporting events alone.
It’s time to recognize that the laws are outdated, and the GAME Act will modernize them by increasing transparency, integrity, and consumer protections.”
In June, Geoff Freeman – president and chief executive of the American Gaming Association (AGA) – confirmed that his organization has held a series of meetings with the player’s unions from the MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL over the last 18 months.
That same month, the AGA announced the formation of the American Sports Betting Coalition (ASBC), a lobby group consisting of law enforcement officials, civic leaders, and other stakeholders who support regulated sports betting over the status quo.
The first state to enter the Union became the 12th to expressly legalize the daily fantasy sports (DFS) industry, as Governor Phil Scott of Vermont signed a DFS regulation bill into law.
Officially known as S-136, the bill contained a suite of consumer protection measures unconnected to the gambling industry.
But amidst a wave of DFS regulation bills being introduced during the current legislative session, S-136 was written to include a section defining DFS as a game of skill which is exempted from the state’s strict gambling prohibitions:
“Fantasy sports contest means a virtual or simulated sporting event governed by a uniform set of rules adopted by a fantasy sports operator in which: (A) a fantasy sports player may earn one or more cash prizes or awards, the value of which a fantasy sports operator discloses in advance of the contest; (B) a fantasy sports player uses his or her knowledge and skill of sports data, performance, and statistics to create and manage a fantasy sports team.”
Through sponsorship by the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs, S-136 was introduced on March 21 – and by May 12 both the House and Senate held a conference committee to finalize its legislative language ahead of passage that day.
State senator Michael Sirotkin (D-Chittenden) was a participant in that conference committee, after which he told independent news outlet VTDigger why he supported S-136:
“Eighty thousand or more people engage in fantasy sports in the state of Vermont, and it’s a good thing to get some consumer protection and regulation around the whole industry.”
Chris Curtis, who serves as director of the attorney general’s Public Protection Division, also spoke with VTDigger to explain Vermont’s accelerated progress on DFS regulation:
“Our position has been that it’s better to regulate the industry so that there are rules of the road and so that consumers have an expectation that fantasy sports has a backstop for consumer protection.”
Under the terms of S-136, residents of Vermont and visitors to the state must be 18 years of age to play DFS. The use of computer scripting and other automated tools preferred by professional players is prohibited across the board, while employees and representatives – including sponsored athletes – are barred from participating in contests with a buy-in of $ 5 or more.
On the operations side of the law, DFS sites like DraftKings and FanDuel will be required to apply for a license through the Secretary of State’s office, with an annual fee of $ 5,000 attached.
The parameters for taxation of DFS industry revenue haven’t been finalized, with S-136 instead directing the Governor’s office and Attorney General to establish a “tax framework.” A deadline of December 15, 2017 has been set for that taxation scheme to be put in place.
A spokesperson representing both DraftKings and FanDuel issued a statement celebrating Vermont’s decision:
“More than 100,000 – and growing – fantasy sports fans can now breathe easy, as the state has made it crystal clear: fantasy sports are welcome in Vermont.
On behalf of those fans, we want to thank Governor Scott and the legislature – particularly Senators Kevin Mullin and Dick Sears and Representatives Bill Botzow and Michael Marcotte – for updating state law to affirm fantasy sports are legal and establish some common-sense regulations for all companies to ensure consumers are protected.
We look forward to continuing to work with Governor Scott’s team, Attorney General Donovan and members of the legislature on a final, comprehensive regulatory and tax structure.”
Vermont’s previous attempt to pass DFS legislation was derailed in 2016, when the state’s assistant attorney general John Treadwell told lawmakers that DFS contests “violate Vermont’s gambling laws.”
The Attorney General’s office has since reversed that opinion, paving the way for Vermont, and its population of 626,000 residents, to join regional neighbors like Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland in explicitly approving DFS.
The other states where DFS laws and regulations have been passed are Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia.
Anecdotal evidence showing that Americans oppose a blanket ban on sports betting has accumulated in recent years, but a recent survey commissioned by the American Gaming Association (AGA) provided conclusive data.
The mixed-mode survey was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research on behalf of the AGA – the largest lobby organization working on behalf of the casino and sportsbook industries – in late January of this year. In total, a main sample of 1,200 adults was polled by phone, along with an oversample of 400 “avid sports fans” who were polled online.
The survey framed its questions around the concept of sports betting legalization, which it defined as repealing the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) of 1992, and allowing individual states to authorize their own regulated sports betting industry.
In an April 24 report entitled “Legalizing Sports Betting: A Winning Wager,” the research firm informed the AGA that 72 percent of avid sports fans support legalization – putting frequent sports viewers at the top in terms of groups polled.
Avid sports fans were defined as those who self-reported a higher frequency of game viewership and/or attendance, along with other factors like regular purchases of memorabilia.
Casual sports fans support legalization by a 54 percent to 36 percent margin, and even respondents who identified as non-sports fans support overturning PAPSA at a 45 percent to 42 percent clip.
Overall, 55 percent of average Americans support legalization, while 35 percent prefer PAPSA’s status quo, and 10 percent consider themselves to be undecided on the issue.
In the report’s introductory section, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research provided a concise appraisal of the survey’s sum results:
“Support for expanded sports betting has gained traction in recent years in the legal system and among key stakeholders including league officials and elected officials.
A national survey of American adults confirms that this momentum extends to the public as well: by a 20-point margin, Americans support changing PAPSA to allow individual states to decide whether or not to legalize sports betting in their own state.
Support for legalization extends across lines of party, race, gender, and geography, and includes both sports fans, who enthusiastically support legalization, and non-sports fans, a plurality of whom support changing the law.”
The survey revealed several demographical divergences between various groups, such as a wide gap between the support of men (65 percent) and women (46 percent).
In terms of age, 62 percent of respondents under the age of 50 support legalization, while only 47 percent of those 50 and up held the same view.
Youth isn’t a surefire predictor of sports betting support, however, as the highest level of favorability came from the 30-39 age group at 65 percent, just beating out the 40-49 demographic at 62 percent.
On the other hand, senior citizens aged 65 and up expressed the strongest level of opposition to legal sportsbooks at 45 percent.
In fact, the 18-29 demographic was third among the five age tiers, with 59 percent of teens and twenty-somethings supporting legalization.
Predictably, religious preferences played a major role in respondents’ views on the issue. Forty-four percent of those who reported “regular religious activity” oppose legalization – second only to senior citizens. Even so, 46 percent of the regular religion demographic came out in support of legalization, once again showing that PAPSA’s popularity has waned considerably even among ostensible allies.
When asked if they would begin betting on sports should their state legalize the industry, 12 percent of Americans reported that they’d be “more than likely” to place wagers in the future.
That figure equates to 28 million American adults potentially visiting legal sportsbooks in the event of a PAPSA repeal.
A gambling experience that essentially offers sports betting in disguise may soon go live in New Jersey, courtesy of Resorts Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City.
In the May 6 edition of his column on ESPN.com, gambling industry writer David Purdum reported that Resorts is nearing completion of a new 1,200-square foot iGaming Lounge. When finished, the new venue is designed to host a new game known as FastPick, which offers players a house-banked fantasy sports style wagering experience.
The launch of FastPick is subject to approval by the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), but per Purdum’s reporting, Resorts staff is busy installing cashier’s cages and high-definition video screens in anticipation of FastPick’s brick and mortar debut.
Under the FastPick format, players must select the winners of between three and 10 matchups involving individual players, as based on statistical performance using a standard daily fantasy sports (DFS) scoring system.
The SportAD.co website offers the following description of FastPick’s “Head to Head” gameplay format:
“In its simplest form, users make predictions on which athlete will score more from our pairings. Results are based on our rigorously formulated scoring schemas and winnings determined by the number of selections made.”
Purdum says a standalone website offering FastPick games will go live sometime this month.
FastPick is produced by the Washington D.C.-based Sport Analytics & Data Corp (SportAD).
Joe Brennan, co-founder and chief executive officer, previously operated DFS site Fast Fantasy. After pivoting to a business-to-business approach in 2015, Brennan envisioned the FastPick model as a streamlined version of DFS which would successfully toe the line between state gaming regulations and federal law.
New Jersey law was amended in 2012 to allow for paid fantasy sports within casinos, under certain conditions like the multiple selection parlay wagering offered by FastPick.
Under the terms of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, fantasy sports are exempted from the online gambling ban – so long as they aren’t based on the performance of a single athlete.
Brennan told Purdum how his FastPick concept hews closely to both legal statutes, while predicting that DFS players would be joined by traditional sports bettors when the Resorts iGaming Lounge officially launched:
“We wanted to get something as close to a traditional single-game play as we [could], but still have it be compliant with fantasy rules. I think this is as close as you can get right now.
The opportunity here is not just with existing fantasy players. But it’s also migrating over sports betting customers to what is essentially one of the only legal opportunities that they would have that doesn’t require a major cultural shift in the way that they bet.”
During an interview with NJOnlineGambling.com which was published on May 4, Brennan spoke about FastPick’s appeal to major land-based gaming operators:
“Casinos (like Resorts) are intrigued by the audience that gravitates to DFS – young males with disposable income. They’re trying to capture that audience for their brick-and-mortar establishments.
We’re very excited to be launching with them. They’re already partnered with names such as PokerStars and Mohegan Sun Casino. We trust in them, based on their success.”
As Brennan mentioned, Resorts currently maintains three online casino and/or poker room platforms under its New Jersey interactive gaming license: Resorts, Mohegan Sun, and PokerStars.
If approved, the FastPick games at Resorts will offer a selection of 20 head-to-head contests between individual players. Gamblers must select at least three matchup winners, or any number up to 10 total, with wagering limits set at $ 1 through $ 10,000.
West Virginia Sports Betting Bill Gains Momentum; Could Set Stage for PAPSA Challenge in Supreme Court
After introducing a strongly worded bill that would legalize sports betting in the state, West Virginia appears poised to join New Jersey in challenging a longstanding federal prohibition.
A coalition of 11 lawmakers within the state’s House of Representatives introduced House Bill 2751 – officially titled “Legalizing Sport Pool Betting” – on March 1.
If passed, HB-2751 would call on the West Virginia State Lottery Commission to create the regulatory framework needed to allow the state’s brick and mortar casinos to operate on-site sportsbooks.
In choosing specific legislative language, lawmakers signaled West Virginia’s willingness to dispute the constitutionality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) of 1992. That federal law forms the basis for the current ban on sports betting, which covers all but four American states (Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana).
The textual language contained within HB-2751 immediately clarifies West Virginia’s stance on PAPSA, stating that the “legislature finds” Congress “unlawfully enacted” the law.
Going one step further, the bill’s authors include a section “finding that federal law prohibiting sports betting in West Virginia is unconstitutional,” before offering a final legislative finding stating the “federal government has no authority to prohibit sports betting in West Virginia.”
As documented by sports betting lawyer Daniel Wallach, writing for Legal Sports Report, the precise wording of these sections suggests that West Virginia is well aware of New Jersey’s ongoing struggle to challenge PAPSA.
Wallach cites the pivotal Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA), Inc. v. Holder, 2011 WL 802106 (D.N.J. Mar. 7, 2011), in which several plaintiffs – including iMEGA, the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, and state senator Raymond Lesniak – brought their case against PAPSA to federal district court.
That court dismissed the lawsuit on the basis of judicial “standing,” a provision of the Constitution’s Article III which essentially holds that the federal judiciary will only hear “cases or controversies” that are actually occurring, and not merely hypothetical:
“Any civil enforcement action [to challenge PASPA] would be premature, because New Jersey law does not permit the sports gambling sought by Plaintiffs … [and if] PASPA were found unconstitutional, New Jersey law would still prohibit the sports gambling activities Plaintiffs and their members seek to legalize.”
In layman’s terms, New Jersey’s initial PAPSA challenge failed because state law doesn’t allow for sports betting as it currently stands.
This ruling resulted in New Jersey putting the issue to voters via public referendum, which was overwhelmingly passed to amend the state constitution to allow sports betting.
West Virginia’s bill seeks to cut the judicial standing argument out of the equation preemptively, by using the language of “legislative findings” to declare that sports betting is already authorized within the jurisdiction.
Looking forward, that strategy would set the stage – assuming the legislature passes HB-2751 and Governor Jim Justice signs it into law – for the State Lottery Commission to formulate sports betting licensing procedures. From there, the four major professional sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL), along with the NCAA, would be expected to issue cease and desist letters to the state – as happened in New Jersey following that state’s successful referendum.
Any subsequent lawsuits stemming from that dispute would be heard by the US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, with that jurisdiction’s eventual ruling likely to be challenged to the Fourth Circuit US Court of Appeals, and then to the Supreme Court if necessary.
West Virginia’s legislative session ends on April 8, and HB-2751 is currently being considered by the state’s House Judiciary Committee.