Politics & Policy

House Dem Demands: Investigate Fantasy Football

A top House Democrat wants Congress to investigate fantasy sports websites that have thus far evaded restrictions on online gambling.

Representative Frank Pallone cited FanDuel and DraftKings as particularly prominent daily fantasy sites. “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,” he said in a statement Monday. “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, though, the legal landscape governing these activities remains murky and should be reviewed.”

The top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee conjured concerns that players might use fantasy sports to bet on games. “Team involvement in daily fantasy sports also raises questions of whether players or league personnel, who may be able to affect the outcome of a game, should be allowed to participate in daily fantasy sports,” he wrote in a September 14 letter to his GOP counterparts on the committee. “Given the professional sports leagues professional players [sic] deep involvement with fantasy sports, this Committee, as the committee with jurisdiction over professional sports and gambling, should examine the relationship between fantasy sports and gambling and the relationships between professional sports leagues, teams, players, and fantasy sports operators.”

#share#Pallone’s home state of New Jersey recently legalized online gambling, to the dismay of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Caesar’s Entertainment, on the other hand, has launched an online-gaming website to profit from the bill and is lobbying to protect it. “In New Jersey, online gambling brought in $120.5 million in its first year of operation, according to the state Division of Gaming Enforcement,” a local media report notes. “Meanwhile, Atlantic City lost four brick-and-mortar casinos.”

FanDuel joined a lobbying network called the Internet Association in 2014. In the meantime, “FanDuel points to an exemption in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, a 2006 law meant to crack down on the payment processors of online sports books,” according to The Hill. Bills that would ban online gambling have, so far, exempted fantasy sports sites.

— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.

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