Senate minority leader Harry Reid and New Jersey senator Cory Booker both weighed in on daily fantasy sports when asked by the media, with Reid linking DFS to gambling.
What Reid said about DFS
Attention to and scrutiny of daily fantasy sports has ramped up in past weeks, including a call for a Congressional hearing by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ).
In the wake of that, media types have started asking other politicians about their stance on DFS. That happened twice on Tuesday.
First, Reid was asked about the topic by a reporter from Roll Call. Here is his complete response:
“As some of you know, in one of my prior lives, I was chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, and during those days, we were the only gambling deal in town. Gambling is a very difficult thing to control, and it’s — when you have the commodity as cash, it’s very hard to control.
And so I — one, when I was recovering from my injury, somebody sent me a long book to listen to dealing with fantasy sports. To be honest with you, I appreciate the gift, but I — it just didn’t mean anything to me. I’m not into that stuff. I like the real thing. My point is, I hope there’s ways of controlling this money that’s obviously being bet on fake games and fake players.”
While it’s not clear how much Reid was prepared to answer a question on this topic, it does appear that he believes DFS is akin to gambling, and believes it should be treated as such.
Legal Sports Report has reached out to Reid’s office to further clarify his position on DFS.
What Booker said about DFS
The media continued to push the issue again, this time with Booker, also a Democrat.
Booker seemed to be more prepared for the question, as a representative from his home state, Pallone, is responsible for bringing the issue of DFS to the attention of the federal government.
Booker was more measured in his statements about DFS than Reid or Pallone. Here is some of what he said, according to NorthJersey.com:
“I’m now investigating it. I just want to look at it to see, is it gambling, is it not?
… So I haven’t looked at it enough to give you any conclusions. But obviously I think it’s something that everyone should take a look at. And do we want – does it in any way violate some of the parameters we have with gambling and entertainment and skill endeavors?”
It also seemed like Booker was suggesting a Senate hearing could be in the cards:
“There are some of my colleagues who are looking at it even more. Obviously the commerce committee, which I’m on, is the right place to do it.”
The takeaway: Congressional scrutiny has momentum
Whether or not a Congressional hearing is going to happen is still an open question.
Some have dismissed Pallone’s call for a hearing as a ploy to garner attention for New Jersey’s ongoing efforts to legalize sports betting. And while it may have started as that, the idea of Congress looking into DFS has clearly gained some momentum.
The chair of the committee on the House side, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), has said he believes a hearing will happen, eventually. Booker has clearly thought about the issue, and didn’t do anything to downplay the idea that Congress should take a deeper dive.
When Pallone made his initial comments, how successful he would be at pushing the issue was certainly up for debate. But Pallone is pressing forward, on Monday again equating fantasy sports to sports betting at a forum hosted by the International Centre for Sport Security.
It seems Pallone has picked up more support, in the form of political strategist James Carville, the moderator of the panel. Here is what he said, according to the New York Daily News:
“The NBA owns part of the fantasy, but they don’t want me to be able to make a bet on a game in New Jersey. Can you help me with the sheer hypocrisy of it?”
It’s still possible that the momentum behind a Congressional hearing dies down. Right now, though, it’s starting to look more and more like Congress has an appetite for taking a closer look at the DFS industry.