When Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 1992, major league baseball was still reeling from revelations that Pete Rose, a hero to many, had been placing bets on games in which he participated. His penalty was a lifetime ban from the game. (See the Wall Street Journal’s op-ed for just one example.) More and more people are calling for his reinstatement, but who knows what will happen.
It is strangely ironic that Rose played for and managed the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds were the team the Chicago White Sox played in the 1919 World Series — the infamous Black Sox incident in which players took payoffs from gamblers (allegedly) to throw the series to the Reds. Eight White Sox players were banned for life, even though they were found not guilty of fraud charges.
Back to PASPA, though. The law, as we said in our last post, bars states and everyone else from sponsoring or operating sports gambling enterprises. The last part of the statute, though, undermines the sincerity of proponents’ arguments about protecting team sports from corruption and youths from certain gambling addiction.
How so? PASPA specifically exempts four states from the ban: Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon already had state-sanctioned sports gambling programs in place, and their lawmakers successfully convinced their Congressional counterparts to grandfather them in.
It’s hard to argue that gambling is a scourge, tearing asunder the fabric of American society, leaving nothing but an immoral morass in its wake, while in the next breath adding, “Except in these places.” It isn’t that Oregon is scourge-proof or Nevada’s youth — well, Delaware’s youth are immune to the siren song of the gambling parlor. It is merely that they were better lobbyists than the full-on opponents of the bill.
States have tried to challenge the act, but not much has come of it. A little like the campaign to reinstate Pete Rose.
North Carolina has its own state laws, but they cast a wider dragnet than the federal law: Both operating and participating in gambling are illegal. Sport gambling is not mentioned, but animal racing is (and it counts as gambling). The penalties range from misdemeanors to felonies.
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