Casinos to seek legal sports betting with Trump in White House

Casino owners in the U.S. will renew their push to legalize sports betting at their properties, according to an executive with the gambling industry’s main trade association.

Industry lobbyists will be seeking a sponsor next year for legislation to overturn a 1992 ban on the betting, according to Sara Rayme, a senior vice president for the Washington-based American Gaming Association. The election of Donald Trump, who once ran four casinos bearing his name, could help pave the way.

“He was a former casino owner, he understands the business,” Rayme said in an interview.

Only four states — Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon — are allowed to offer betting on athletic competitions under a federal law called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Some $149 billion in illegal sports bets are placed annually, according to the association.

Sports betting promoters have sought legalization for years, but have run into opposition from some leagues and groups opposed to gambling in general. New Jersey’s efforts to legalize sports betting in its casinos were blocked by federal courts.

“I’m OK with it, because it’s happening anyway,” Trump said in an interview last year on Fox Sports 1. “Whether you have it or don’t have it, you have it. It’s all over the place.”

The issue is different from online gambling, which is legal in three states. The industry is split on whether consumers should be allowed to bet online, with some casino operators, most notably Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson, opposed.

The gaming association used Friday’s announcement of the proposed merger of DraftKings Inc. and FanDuel Inc., two daily fantasy sports companies, to renew its call for change.

“DraftKings and FanDuel have sped up the debate on legalizing sports betting by demonstrating its popularity and mainstream nature,” Rayme said in a statement. “We’re building on the momentum created by DFS to remove the federal ban on sports betting.”

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