Last week Congressman Barney Frank introduced a bill that would effectively legalize and regulate online gaming in the US. While Frank, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, made some friends in the online gaming community, he picked up one predictable and powerful foe; the professional sports lobby.
Financial Services Committee members have already received an email written by NFL lobbyist Martin Gold and signed by five major league sports organizations stating that they "very strongly oppose any effort to legalize any online sports gambling." Major league sports have had a long track record of supporting anti-sports gambling legislation, arguing that it protects the integrity of their sport. But they didn't just draw the line at online sports gambling. The email further went on to say, "We would also oppose any legislation that would legalize and regulate any 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."
This is not the first time Martin Gold or the NFL has weighed in against online gaming. Gold, former counsel to former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, was retained by the NFL to help push through the UIGEA and was instrumental in getting the bill tacked on to last minute "must pass" legislation.
Gold makes an argument for having a consistent policy against all online gaming, but he conveniently omits any discussion of online gambling associated with fantasy sports leagues. While major league sports lobbied for the UIGEA, they lobbied equally hard for their current carve out for fantasy sports leagues; enterprises that produce millions of dollars of revenue for major league sports franchises and their television network affiliates.