As legalized sports betting spreads, a Latham & Watkins Forum asks: What’s next?

Five months after the US Supreme Court struck down a federal law that had largely restricted gambling on sports events to Nevada, a Latham & Watkins Forum delved into the likely impact of the ruling, which has cleared the way for legalized sports betting across the country. 

Watch video of their discussion: 

The October 17 panel included lawyers from both sides of the litigation, in which the NCAA and other sports leagues had sought to prevent New Jersey from legalizing sports betting. University Professor Arthur Miller moderated a discussion that featured David Rebuck, the director of New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement; NBA general counsel Rick Buchanan; and NCAA managing director of enforcement Derrick Crawford, as well as Jodi Balsam ’86, a professor at Brooklyn Law School and an adjunct professor at NYU Law, and Ari Borod, vice president of legal and business affairs at fantasy sports company FanDuel.

How to protect the integrity of games is a key question that both states and sports leagues are wrestling with, the panelists said. According to Buchanan, the leagues have proposed model legislation that would give them royalties, which they say would help cover their increased enforcement efforts, and are also seeking access to betting data.

Selected comments from the discussion:

Derrick Crawford: “Sports wagering is acceptable, it's legal, it's regulated, and I think we just have to adjust. That's the environment going forward. Where do we fit in in collegiate athletics to make sure that our games stay legit, and that our student athletes are not harmed in any way?”

David Rebuck: “From my perspective as a regulator and in law enforcement… we need to be engaged deeply in preparing for the risks that are associated with low-paid athletes who may or may not have an opportunity to make the next level and will be approached, either through bribery, extortion, blackmail, [or] the greater risk, I call it insider trading. An 18 year old goes back to his dorm, mentions that the Alabama quarterback, he's not playing this week—somebody's going to use that information to their advantage.”

Jodi Balsam: “I actually have a question for the leagues: What's the new business model going to look like going forward now that there's sports wagering? [If] you lose the legislative battles and you're not going get your vig [betting charge] from an integrity fee, how are you going to change the business? Are there going to be sports books onsite in your venues? Are you going to partner with organizations like FanDuel? I know there's already some partnering going on—how deep is that going to get?”

Rick Buchanan: There are so many facets of the gambling issue, so many different areas that we have to look at, it's a little mind-numbing, but one of them, obviously, is what the commercial landscape is going to look like for us. So we made, about six weeks ago, our first gambling partnership with MGM… They, on a non-exclusive basis, have entered into a commercial arrangement with us where they will be receiving our official data, which we think is extremely important for the integrity of betting on our games, and they have agreed commercially to give us a lot of the information that we have been seeking legislatively.”

Posted November 5, 2018