US Sports Leagues mobilise against IGREA


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001

The reek of self interest grows stronger

The Washington publication The Hill reports that a coalition of major amateur and professional sports leagues is urging members of House Financial Services Committee to oppose legislation unveiled last week by its chairman Barney Frank that would undo last years crackdown on illegal online gambling by regulating and licensing the pastime in the USA.

The Hill says that the first stab by the sports industry at the bill provoked a searing response from one Capitol Hill staffer, revealing divisions over the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which passed the House overwhelmingly last year in a late night session immediately prior to a recess, attached to an unrelated must-pass security bill.

One sports league lobbyist did not mince his words in an email to members of the Financial Services Committee, writing:

Our sports organizations would very strongly oppose any effort to legalize any online sports gambling, wrote Martin Gold, a lobbyist at Covington & Burling who represents the National Football League (NFL).

We would also oppose any legislation that would legalize and regulate non-sports gambling online, because we do not believe that differential treatment of sports gambling and other gambling online would be sustainable in the current environment, Gold wrote.

The letter, which was signed by five major sports organizations, including the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball (MLB), prompted a biting reply from Tom Lizardo, chief of staff to avowed libertarian Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who sits on the Financial Services panel.

So the professional sports leagues are directly opposed to the interests of the fans who pay their bills? Is there any explanation of this? he responded the next day.

According to the e-mail provided to The Hill, Lizardo continued, Please dont tell me something about the altruism of professional sports, especially the NFL. Maybe they could spend a bit more time and effort making sure your retired players are not living in poverty with the billions you make on the Super Bowl.

Oh, I see keep government out of pro sports but have it regulate my personal use of my home computer? Nice, he concluded.

Norman Singleton, another staffer to Paul, sent the e-mail to the rest of the committee. Less than two hours later Gold responded, asking the pair to forward his reply on to the other members.

Asked for comment, NFL Vice President Joe Browne said, Marty Golds views represent the position of amateur and professional sports leagues as well as the more than 300 members [of Congress] who voted for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Bill last year. That number included majorities in both parties. I am certain that Congressman Pauls views were expressed by his staffer.

Offshore Internet gaming companies and poker enthusiasts have led the charge in opposition to last years crackdown, which made it illegal for credit cards and banks to make payments to online gambling companies. Franks bill would set up a regulatory scheme to allow Internet gambling by adults through companies registered with the U.S. Treasury.

Critics of last years crackdown on online gaming complain about a carve-out in the legislation for fantasy sports leagues, which they say bear a close resemblance to sports betting.

You ask any 10 guys who are in a fantasy league, they dont play for a color television, they play for money, one online gambling industry lobbyist asserted.

The fantasy leagues not only produce millions of dollars for MLB; they also stir interest in baseball, football and other sports, he added. I just think its somewhat hypocritical that they stand up and say, We dont want betting on the sport when these fantasy leagues drive revenue.


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001
Update - player support important!


"Cautious backing" for Congressman's Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act of 2007.

The attempt by influential US Congressman Barney Frank to introduce online gambling licensing and regulation in the United States has continued to receive widespread mainstream media coverage and comment both for and against by groups and individuals (see previous InfoPowa reports)

Frank has kept the kettle boiling by making himself available for interviews explaining his objectives and urging US members of the gambling public to show support for his proposal by contacting their political representatives.

Most recent developments include a statement from the powerful American Gaming Association (AGA) following a board meeting held early this week.

The Association has given "cautious backing" to the Frank proposals on the regulation of internet gaming, saying it commends the Congressman's efforts to examine the issue of internet gaming. The Association's statement commented: We believe hearings on (the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act of 2007) legislation will provide a valuable opportunity for gathering the facts about the many issues surrounding internet gaming, including the ability to prevent underage gambling and other regulatory safeguards.

The AGA statement went on to add that throughout the decade long debate in Congress over online gaming it [the AGA] has been consistent in putting any legislative proposal through three tests. These are the right of individual states to regulate, that the legislation should not create competitive advantages or disadvantages between and among commercial casinos, Native American casinos, state lotteries and pari-mutel wagering operations, and that no form of gaming that is currently legal should be made illegal.

The statement concluded: ...unlicensed, unregulated and untaxed offshore illegal internet gambling operations should not be allowed to operate in the US. Any legislation to license, legalise, and regulate internet gambling must, as a minimum, meet the stringent standards held by our members that protect against underage gambling, problem gambling, money laundering and fraud.

The AGA came out in favour of an independent commission of enquiry into the whole question of Internet gambling last year. It's reaction to the Frank bill is in marked contrast to earlier reports this week that the UK-based Remote Gaming Association had declined to support the Congressman's initiative (see earlier InfoPowa report).

Frank has assured interested parties that his proposal does not envisage any bias in favour of American companies applying for licences. In terms of his proposals, applicants would have to set up corporate offices in the USA, but there would be no discrimination against companies that originated from outside the US.

As long as they meet the standards that we set for them regarding underage gambling etc, anybody who meets those standards we would consider, Frank said.

He added that at present he felt his legislation would have at most 130 to 140 votes out of 435 in the House of Representatives. Were a long way from winning, he cautioned, before adding: I do think the momentum is with us as more and more people complain about being stiffed, but I couldnt predict now.

Frank reiterated that any progress would be a matter of how many people care about this and push it.

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