Hearings on Wednesday in Illinois and Washington, D.C. that focused on sports betting brought together various lawmakers, stakeholders and players’ associations representatives — but not a National Football League representative in the flesh.
Jack Evans, Chairman of the D.C. Council’s Finance & Revenue Committee who led the Council hearing, asked aloud why the NFL has largely been absent from the public conversation on legal sports wagering. “That’s the largest gambling area — in football,” Evans noted, before the NBA’s Dan Spillane advised that an NFL official actually had appeared at a Congressional hearing in September.
At that House of Representatives committee hearing, the NFL’s Jocelyn Moore, Executive Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs stated that, “Since the Supreme Court decision, state governments are rushing to promote sports betting — and we are witnessing a regulatory race to the bottom.”
Integrity be damned, absent adoption of NFL-sponsored standards. Meanwhile in written letters to states, as in Illinois, the league has struck a different and more complimentary polite tone.
Unlike at Congressional Hearing, in States NFL Isn’t Using Bullying Tactics, Where They Suggest That States Are Engaged in a ‘Regulatory Race to the Bottom’
In the written testimony submitted to the Illinois Joint Committee on Revenue and Finance’s gaming hearing, obtained by Sports Handle, the NFL writes:
In this post-PASPA environment, one of the most important aspects of protecting the integrity of our games and creating integrity in the new marketplace is the existence of a strong state regulatory body, such as the Illinois Gaming Board.
In the written testimony submitted to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board regarding the state’s sports betting regulations earlier this year, the NFL wrote:
In this post-PASPA environment, one of the most important aspects of protecting the integrity of our games and creating integrity in the new marketplace is the existence of a strong state regulatory body, such as the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Nothing wrong with copying and pasting a section as in a cover letter — except where it’s disingenuous. Flattery will quickly turn into contempt if demands are not met.
Illinois lawmakers are skeptical of any fee or paying leagues a royalty — or whatever — without getting anything at all in return. The leading D.C. law that appears headed toward passage includes nothing the leagues have been demanding, foremost, mandated use of “official league data” for grading of wagers.
So which is it, NFL? Are state regulators partners or foes? Are they competent and equipped at enhancing integrity — of games and of betting operations?
In response to a similar question at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas last week, New Jersey’s Director of the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), David Rebuck, said that state regulators are “committed to fixing a broken system where U.S. citizens are entrenched in an illegal market, sending funds outside U.S.”
Interestingly, if not surprisingly, the NFL has maintained its break with Major League Baseball and the NBA on legal sports betting on one key point. Those leagues plus the PGA Tour continue to push for an off-the-top “integrity fee,” now called a “royalty,” or purely compensation, depending on who is speaking and where.
Since PASPA fell in May, the NFL has called for no such thing. Of course, the NFL would stand to benefit the same and without equal lobbying expenses if either of those leagues succeeds at securing such a fee in any state or through Congress.
The point remains: Everyone including leagues and state regulators want and are invested in integrity and stand to have their financial interests secured much greater with betting in a legal U.S. market.
In conclusion, note to state regulators: Don’t be flattered until the ink dries on the regulations drawn by your “strong state regulatory body.”