Rep. Fred Upton: "My sense is that we will do a hearing"
Legal Sports Report

Game On For Daily Fantasy Sports In Congress? Hearing Likely, Republican Says

Upton DFS

The Hill reported that a Congressional hearing on daily fantasy sports is likely to occur, according to the Republican chairman of a House committee.

‘This is an issue we ought to take a look at’

From the report at The Hill, which covers the U.S. Congress:

“My sense is that we will do a hearing,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “There’s a lot of things on our front burner right now, but I think this is an issue that we ought to take a look at.”

Upton’s comments came in the wake of a letter from the ranking member of the committee, Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), who asked for a hearing on the subject of DFS. In his request, he noted that “the legal landscape governing these activities remains murky and should be reviewed.”

Pallone also questioned why daily fantasy sports are being treated differently than sports betting in the United States. DFS sites generally operate in 45 states, currently, while sports betting is legal only in Nevada.

The hearing apparently isn’t going to happen very soon, however. More from The Hill:

Upton said he has spoken with Pallone on Thursday, though cautioned that he had not “examined [the letter] thoroughly” and that the hearing would not take place in the “short-term” because the committee has a busy agenda.

Upton pointed to the changing nature of the industry as a reason for congressional scrutiny. “It’s a larger issue than it was before and I think [Pallone] raised some good points in his letter,” he said.

Also of note: Upton is from a state that has some DFS issues. Michigan’s Gaming Control Board recently issued a statement saying it believed DFS is illegal under state law.

New Jersey’s full-court press

Pallone also talked to The Hill earlier in the week, expanding on his rationale for asking for the Congressional hearing into daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel.

“I also think that they’re skirting the law, because the carve-out from online gambling that said you could have fantasy sports was not envisioned to be a multibillion-dollar gambling operation,” he said.

Some of Pallone’s motivation in the fantasy sports hearing is about bringing attention to the issue of sports betting, as his state is in a court battle to allow wagering on sporting events. And others in New Jersey are picking up on that theme

The horse racing track Monmouth Park is getting ready to offer fantasy sports contests, according to a story at NJ.com:

“I’ll be there to put down the first bet,” said state Sen. Ray Lesniak.

That’s obviously a tongue-in-cheek reference from the author of the sports betting bill that fantasy sports amounts to gambling.

Monmouth Park attorney Dennis Drazin was a bit more straightforward. Again from NJ.com:

Drazin … said the team owners should have just let the Jersey law take effect. Instead they are pretending to oppose sports betting while making millions off fantasy sports.

“The leagues are out there screaming they want to oppose this and now they’re taking equity positions in the sports-fantasy operations,” he said. “Look at the hypocrisy of the leagues here.”

Photo by Bluerasberry used under license CC BY-SA 4.0

Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.