NJ Congressman calls for hearing on fantasy sports

NJ Congressman calls for hearing on fantasy sports

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 Totally Gaming
Frank Pallone suggests there is little difference between sports betting and fantasy games

A senior US politician and sports betting proponent has called for a congressional hearing into the “murky” legality of fantasy sports.

Frank Pallone, a New Jersey Democrat and ranking member on the influential Energy and Commerce Committee, has requested that his counterparts should “hold a hearing examining the relationship between professional sports and fantasy sports to review the legal status of fantasy sports and sports betting”.

Pallone is a supporter of regulated sports betting in his home state, and his letter to fellow committee members comes just a few weeks after a court ruled against a New Jersey appeal to allow gambling on the major US leagues.

Congressional hearings are the principal formal method by which committees collect and analyse information in the early stages of legislative policymaking.

“Anyone who watched a game this weekend was inundated by commercials for fantasy sports websites, and it’s only the first week of the NFL season,” Pallone said. “These sites are enormously popular, arguably central to the fans’ experience, and professional leagues are seeing the enormous profits as a result.

“Despite how mainstream these sites have become, the legal landscape governing these activities remains murky and should be reviewed.”

Pallone cited figures that suggest some 57 million Americans will take part in fantasy sports this year, while an American Gambling Association (AGA) report last week said an incredible $93 billion (€82.8 billion) will be bet illegally over the course of the NFL American football season.

The Congressman said that section of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) that specifically exempts fantasy sports from the federal online gambling ban is a “loophole that has blurred the lines between betting conducted through fantasy sports sites and online gambling”.

Pallone highlighted the relationship between major sports leagues and fantasy sports operators – from investment to partnerships – and questioned whether professional athletes that can have an affect on scores should be allowed to play on sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings. 

Pallone said: “The NBA and its players’ union disagree as to whether players are prohibited from participating. In 2009, the NFL itself highlighted that many of its players participate in fantasy leagues.

“Fans are currently allowed to risk money on the performance of an individual player.  How is that different than wagering money on the outcome of a game?”
 

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