One of the reasons we are talking about sports gambling actually harkens back to the passage of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act: Baseball legend Pete Rose turned 74 this week. He has been banned from baseball for 26 years, and there is growing support for Major League Baseball Commissioner Bob Manfred to lift that ban.
Rose, you may recall, spent his career with the Cincinnati Reds, first as a player and then as manager. In 1989, Rose was accused of placing bets not just on baseball games, but on games in which he participated. MLB has strict rules against this kind of thing, and Rose accepted the lifetime ban without, at the time, admitting any wrongdoing. Eventually, he owned up to his misdeeds.
That scandal was just one reason Congress passed PASPA in 1992. The purpose of the law was not to incarcerate gamblers. The purpose was to keep states and individuals from providing people with opportunities to gamble.
There was apparently a good deal of debate — or maybe just a good deal of testimony — about the bill before it was passed. A quick review of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s report reveals multiple references to the integrity of professional and amateur sports, the value of team sports and the risk of luring youths into a lifetime of gambling.
One paragraph from the report sums up the arguments in favor of the bill quite neatly:
Sports gambling threatens to change the nature of sporting events from wholesome entertainment for all ages to devices for gambling. It undermines public confidence in the character of professional and amateur sports. Furthermore, State-sanctioned sports gambling will promote gambling among our Nation’s young people.
Opponents argued that gambling was a matter for states to control, not the federal government. The ayes prevailed; apple pie and hot dogs had won over the specter of a new generation of Pete Roses.
Reading the rest of the law, however, raises some doubts about the authors’ sincerity. We’ll explain in our next post.
United States Code Annotated Title 28. Chapter 178. Professional and Amateur Sports Protection, via WestlawNext
West’s North Carolina General Statutes Annotated, Chapter 14. Article 37. Lotteries, Gaming, Bingo and Raffles. § 14-292. Gambling, via WestlawNext