Sports betting, gaming expansion on the agenda for NCLGS conference

January 6, 2020 11:30 AM
  • Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports
January 6, 2020 11:30 AM
  • Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports

Legal sports betting won’t be the only topic state lawmakers from around the nation will tackle this weekend in San Diego.

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But the subject will be hard to ignore.

More than 40 legislators from 20 states are expected to participate in the winter meeting of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS). The conference is expected to include some 200 attendees and feature discussions concerning tribal casinos and commercial casinos, responsible gaming matters, pari-mutuels, and state lotteries.

The conference runs Friday through Sunday at the Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina.

Brendan Bussmann, Global Market Advisors

“Sports betting continues to be one of the focuses that many states are looking at and how they will structure a potential regulatory framework,” said Brendan Bussmann, a partner with Global Market Advisors, who will participate in the conference.

The operational aspects related to sports betting include legal issues and regulatory matters.

“It’s imperative that stakeholders talk to experts that have the experience and understanding of the fiscal, regulatory, and social impacts of legislation, as well as the desire of the citizenry,” Bussmann said.

On Friday, representatives from the NFL, Major League Baseball, and the NCAA will appear on a panel to discuss the role of their particular sports organizations within the confines of legal sports betting. On Saturday, three Nevada legal experts will provide information on best practices from the nation’s first and largest sports betting state.

Fourteen states now offer sports betting at casinos, racetracks and online, following the Supreme Court’s decision to toss out the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018. Another half-dozen states and Washington D.C. could launch sports betting this year, and a handful of states are considering legislation and ballot referendums governing the activity.

“(The) NCLGS is committed to providing legislators, industry stakeholders and the public with timely, expert insight on this important aspect of gaming from several perspectives,” said Ohio State Senator William Coley, who is president of the NCLGS. Ohio lawmakers have been debating sports legalization since the middle of last year.

Sunday’s general session will address issues related to problem gambling and sports betting.

“The participation and attendance of legislators from across the country underscores the importance of the NCLGS semiannual meetings as the only gaming conferences where legislative decision-makers learn from industry leaders and from each other,” Coley said.

In addition to the state legislators, attendees include gaming operators, suppliers, sports executives, attorneys, analysts, regulators, public officials, and others with a stake in aspects of legalized gambling.

On Friday morning, Robert Zahradnik, who serves as the Pew Charitable Trusts’ principal officer for state and local fiscal health, will provide the morning keynote address on state budget practices.

AGA CEO Bill Miller

American Gaming Association CEO Bill Miller will discuss the state of the industry and the Washington D.C., trade organization’s priorities heading into 2020 during his luncheon address on Friday.

According to the AGA, 43 states now have casinos, which generated $41 billion in revenues in 2018. The U.S. casino industry supports more than 1.8 million jobs and provides an economic impact of $261 billion to states and local communities.

In October the AGA released the findings of a survey that found 49% of American adults had a positive view of casino gaming.

Bussmann, whose firm advises state and local governments and gaming operators, said legislative bodies are evaluating different pieces of gaming legislation as they seek additional revenue sources. The other overriding issue is keeping illegal operators and games out of the marketplace.

“With nearly every state in session this year, it’s (more) about getting gaming policy right than it is about pushing legislation forward just to get something done,” Bussmann said. “We have seen too many examples over the years of bad policy that constrains a market or creates challenges.”

Members of NCLGS typically serve as the chairpersons or members of state legislative committees responsible for gaming regulation in their state legislative houses.

Spectrum Gaming Group serves as the executive director of the NCLGS.

The NCLGS is sponsoring a tour on Saturday afternoon of the Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula, just north of San Diego County.

Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.