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Congress needs to debate betting expansion, says Senator McCain

2nd February 2015 9:13 am GMT

Arizona Senator John McCain, the former Republican Presidential nominee, has said he would favour a regulated US sports betting market, although he would oppose any betting through the internet.

With the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) prohibiting all but four US states from authorising sports betting, McCain said he would favour allowing other states to legalise the activity, and would extend the invitation to Indian tribes operating casinos.

Senator McCain was speaking last week on an ABC/ESPN podcast, Capital Games with ESPN’s Andy Katz and ABC’ Rick Klein last week, ahead of yesterday’s Super Bowl which took place in his home state of Arizona and is one of the most popular events of the year for bettors.

“We need a debate in Congress. We need to have a talk with the American people and we need to probably have hearings in Congress on the whole issue so we can build consensus,” he said.

“I think that there [are] places for sports gambling in states, where gambling is legal,” said the Senator. “We obviously know that there are huge amounts gambled on sporting events, particularly football.”

He drew the line at legalising online sports betting however.

“One of the problems I see with internet gaming is the ability to distort the playing field so it can be harmful to individuals and lead to corruption in the sport,” he said.

Under PASPA, only four US states are authorised to offering sports betting to customers, although the majority of legal betting takes place in Nevada which is the only state that allows single-game sports betting, while Delaware, Montana and Oregon have limited forms of betting.

Last month, the American Gaming Association said that the current law banning sports betting was “clearly failing.”

“The AGA is closely examining the current state of sports betting, the laws that govern it and the best way forward for the gaming industry,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA.

The association claims that Americans make $3.8bn of illegal bets on the Super Bowl alone, with just $100m bet legally across Nevada sportsbooks.

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