Retired Republican Congressman Jim Leach speaks out on "cauldron of daily betting."
The politician who caused untold damage and billions of dollars in losses for online gambling companies in the United States with his "follow the money trail" 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), Jim Leach, has characterised the daily fantasy sports phenomenon as a "cauldron of daily betting" as the DFS furore in the States rolls on.
Speaking to the Associated Press news agency this week, now-retired Congressman Leach said lawmakers had no idea daily fantasy sports would "morph into today's cauldron of daily betting" and that his intention in authoring the UIGEA (which has carve-outs for fantasy sports) was to stop gambling on the Internet, not promote it.
Leach told AP that in his opinion UIGEA does not provide immunity against other federal and state laws that could limit DFS activities.
"The only unique legal basis provided fantasy sports by UIGEA is its exemption from one law enforcement mechanism where the burden for compliance has been placed on private sector financial firms," Leach said. "But it is sheer chutzpah for a fantasy sports company to cite the law as a legal basis for existing. Quite precisely, UIGEA does not exempt fantasy sports companies from any other obligation to any other law."
He added: "There is no credible way fantasy sports betting can be described as not gambling. Only a sophist can make such a claim."
Leach's views will probably cause some introspection among US national sports leagues executives, whose franchises, and in some cases the leagues themselves, have developed partnerships with DFS companies despite a traditional anti-gambling stance.
UIGEA's author says he pushed UIGEA, which led to the eventual shut down of online poker and other gambling sites, with the intention of putting a stop to online betting. The legislation specifically prevents banks and other financial institutions from processing funds relating to illegal gambling as defined in other laws.
There are a number of laws that can be deployed to stop daily fantasy sports, Leach told the news agency.
"All citizens can make their own judgment whether America is better off with or without a dominating gambling ethic," he said. "But what is self-evident is that UIGEA exempted fantasy sports from one specific law enforcement mechanism but not from the broad sweep of law itself."
Fantasy sports companies are still bound by state and federal laws on sports betting, wire transfers, anti-trust and securities laws, among others, he said.
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