|A ban on college sports betting looks more likely with the return to Republican control of the US Senate, a top lobbyist said. |
The power shift in Congress means Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who leads the fight to end legalized betting on NCAA sports at Nevada casinos, will resume chairmanship of the Senate Commerce Committee.
Another blow for the pro-betting lobby is that Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the most influential advocate of sports wagering, will swop his role as majority whip for the less powerful position of minority whip.
Reid and Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., lined up enough votes last year to stall McCain's bill in the Commerce Committee on a 10-10 vote.
“The first time the Senate Commerce Committee voted on this three or four years ago the vote was 22-1 in favor. So we've made a lot of progress on it”, said Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., president of the American Gaming Association and former head of the Republican National Committee.
Aides to McCain indicated he is likely to reintroduce the same bill he pushed last year, but won't decide until Congress reconvenes in January.
A number of coaches, including South Carolina football coach Lou Holtz and Kentucky basketball coach Tubby Smith, have joined the NCAA in urging Congress to outlaw college betting to keep gamblers from influencing young athletes to throw games.
Fahrenkopf said McCain's proposal enjoys its strongest support from an unusual alliance of conservatives and liberals.
Fahrenkopf said what might help Nevada's cause is a change of leadership at the NCAA, including the upcoming retirement of President Cedric Dempsey, to be succeeded in January by Indiana President Myles Brand.