The Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee passed a resolution (HR 619) on Tuesday that calls on Congress to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

The resolution was introduced by Representative Robert F. Matzie

PASPA is a federal law that prohibits states from legalizing sports betting, with the exception of Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware.

The repeal of PASPA would, according to a press statement distributed on Monday, “allow Pennsylvania – and all states that authorize, license and regulate casino gaming — to legalize sports betting through its licensed facilities.”

What happened with the PA sports betting resolution

In the press announcement, Gaming Oversight chairman John Payne announced the committee would hold the vote on Tuesday morning. The resolution passed the Gaming Oversight Committee, and is now listed as “reported as committed.”

Largely a symbolic vote, the resolution is unlikely to spur Congress to act on PASPA. However, if more states follow suit, and/or if New Jersey manages to triumph in its sports betting case, Congress’ hand may be forced on this increasingly talked about issue, particularly with the somewhat connected DFS debates that are raging across the country.

For instance, last year Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) called on Congress to hold hearings on daily fantasy sports, which many believe stem from Pallone’s support for the repeal/gutting of PASPA. A repeal would allow his state to offer legalized sports betting at its casinos and racetracks.

In a statement on his website Pallone connected the dots from DFS to sports betting and the need for consistency and clarity:

“The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) prohibits sports betting nationally, except in states in states that legalized sports betting prior to passage of PASPA.  Online sports betting and online gambling are also prohibited under Federal law.  However, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) specifically exempts fantasy sports games that meet certain criteria thanks to a loophole that has become known as the fantasy sports “carve out.”  This loophole has blurred the lines between betting conducted through fantasy sports sites and online gambling.”

What resolutions are meant to do

Similar resolutions are passed all the time, in statehouses across the country, on any number of issues. They are largely designed to be symbolic, to bring attention to a particular issue, to commission a study, or in some cases let federal representatives and senators know that the people back home are watching their votes; state level resolutions are more or less official opinions.

For instance, last March, Payne introduced HR 140, a resolution urging Congress to defeat any bill that would ban online gambling. In 2014 it was Representative Mike Sturla who introduced a resolution, HR 1095, that called on Congress to “defeat S. 2159 and H.R. 4301, which prohibit states from authorizing and conducting Internet gaming.”

In October of 2014, the New Jersey Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Assembly Committee passed a similar anti-Restoration of America’s Wire Act resolution which like Pennsylvania’s resolution, urged Congress to oppose the two RAWA bills: SB 2159 and HR 4301.