MLS Commissioner Don Garber Backs Legal Sports Betting

MLS Commissioner Don Garber Sports Betting

MLS Commissioner Don Garber says legal sportsbooks enhances fan interest in sports in the United Kingdom.

Don Garber, commissioner of the MLS pro soccer league, said in a Yahoo Finance interview recently that he supports federal sports betting legalization in the United States. Don Garber’s comments referenced a current case before the U.S. Supreme Court, which could decide the future of a longstanding, yet controversial, federal ban on sports betting in 46 US states.

On December 4th, the Supreme Court will hear arguments from the state of New Jersey and the N.J. Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association in their attempt to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Betting Act (PASPA).

It is generally reported that all of the major professional sports are the plaintiffs in the New Jersey sports betting lawsuit. Those plaintiffs are the NCAA, MLB, NFL, NBA and the NHL. Major League Soccer (MLS) has a completely different stance.

Don Garber on Legal Sports Betting

While appearing at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit, Don Garber said, “I am a big proponent that it’s going to happen, we might as well be in front of it. I think there are great values to our tax revenues to be able to do that, I don’t think we can stop it, so maybe we’d even lead the charge.”

Garber has been very open with his attitude towards the repeal. His attitude has been pretty consistent: legal sports betting is going to happen anyway, so support it and find the best legal framework to accommodate it.

In Garber’s opinion, America is ready for sports betting across the wider United States. He added that MLS had a role to play in sports betting expansion. Because of the small size of the MLS and its shorter history relative to the other major leagues, the MLS might actually be able to pave the way in supporting a way to change the future of sports betting law.

Garber added, “I do believe that we could lead this effort, because I don’t know that everybody will see soccer as having the same challenges that perhaps would exist if the NFL was going to come out in support of it.”

PAPSA Federal Sports Betting Law

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), created in 1992, defined the legal status of sports betting throughout the United States. This act made sports betting illegal nationwide. A few states were excluded from the legalities, Oregon, Delaware, Montana and Nevada.

Governor Chris Christie’s attorney general has fought the lawsuit in court over the past 5 years, hoping to legalize sports betting in the state of New Jersey. The 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protect Act (PASPA) makes it unlawful for governmental entities to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license or authorize betting, gambling or any wagering schemes that is based on games played by amateur or by professional athletes.

Sports Betting in the UK

Don Garber points to the United Kingdom and the English Premier League (EPL) as his model for success. He suggested that legal sports betting works in England, so he believes that United States should follow a similar model.

Garber’s argument is a little more complex than that. First, the MLS commissioner believes that allowing sports betting might boost the support and enthusiasm for all major American sports, because it brings in a wider and more enthusiastic audience. With some gamblers, the popularity of sports betting transcends the sports themselves.

Legalizing sports betting would bring some much-needed attention to the sport in the states, because prognosticators and oddmakers would hype the sporting events at no extra cost to the leagues or their franchises. He said that legal gambling on MLS matches might bring new fans to his sport, just as it might bring new fans to NFL football, MLB baseball, NHL hockey, or NBA basketball.

The MLS commissioner said soccer or European football is a sport where wagers and competition go hand-in-hand. He added, “Gambling on games, betting on games, is part of the DNA of football around the world. Go to a game in Chelsea or in Stamford Bridge, somebody’s coming to your seat or in your box with a tout sheet, and you can place a bet.”

Garber: “Come Out of the Stone Age”

This is not the first time Don Garber has expressed his views on sports betting. In March 2017, the MLS commissioner said at an appearance at Austin’s South by Southwest film and music festival that the US needed to come out of the Stone Age and legalize sports betting.

Garber, who has been MLS commissioner since August 1999, is not the alone in his opinion for the change. A poll showed earlier this year that the American Public is behind the legalization of sports betting. Even though it is legal in only 4 states, 1-in-5 American sports fans said they have gambled on pro sports before and most of them who gamble on sports said wagering makes games more interesting.