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AGA CEO says legalizing sports gambling may bring in money and jobs, but won't be a cure all

  • Geoff Freeman anticipates a Supreme Court ruling in favor of sports gambling would bring jobs and tax revenue.
  • Freeman admits tax rates will have to be modest to compete with illegal, overseas gambling operations.

Advocates of legalizing gambling on sports usually talk big game, but one of the movement's most vocal advocates tempered his rhetoric on Monday.

American Gambling Association CEO and President Geoff Freeman said opening the market to sports gambling could help bring in new money, but wouldn't be a cure all.

"It's about protecting today's tax revenue, as well as growing it in the future," Freeman said on CNBC's "Power Lunch."

The Supreme Court will begin to oversee deliberation Monday on Christie vs. National Collegiate Athletic Association Monday. The lawsuit, spearheaded by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, seeks to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA).

Since 1992, that act has effectively outlawed sports betting in all but four states. Any decision overturning it would turn over sports gambling regulation to state governments. According to Freeman, PASPA is ineffective. He argued the legislation may have inadvertently fueled the $150 billion black market sports betting industry.

"Most people are doing this illegally on offshore websites, where you can bet on a game as fast as you can order an Uber," Freeman said. "The only way we put these guys out of business and bring that money home is to create a regulated market here in the U.S."

Opponents of the change, including the NCAA, National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball, argue sports gambling would compromise the integrity of the game, leaving teams vulnerable to corruption. Proponents see the potential to stimulate state economies.

Freeman said he anticipates legalized and regulated gambling could create more than 150,000 new jobs and bring in as much as $5 billion in state and local tax revenue. He said, however, shutting down illegal overseas gambling operations would require very competitive tax rates, and quite a bit of time.

"This is not a panacea, I am not going to over promise you what the results will be," Freeman added.