NFL Trying To ‘Ward Off A Hearing’ About Daily Fantasy Sports In Congress?

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The NFL has been working to stop a Congressional hearing into daily fantasy sports from occurring, according to Politico.

What the NFL is doing

Last month, the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), made an official request for a hearing concerning the daily fantasy sports industry. Interest in such a hearing has increased in the wake of the DraftKings data leak that has captured the interest of the media and government alike, with calls for action and a hearing from other members of Congress.

So far, there has been no hearing scheduled.

At the end of a report from Politico, the NFL’s interest in a potential hearing into daily fantasy sports was revealed:

After learning of Pallone’s push, the NFL’s D.C. office — which recently hired a onetime aide to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) — began contacting House members to try to ward off a hearing, according to another House Energy and Commerce aide. The NFL is reeling from other confrontations with Congress on issues ranging from player safety to domestic violence. A league spokesman did not comment for this story.

That news comes after reports that FanDuel has retained a lobbyist with close ties to the chairman of the committee, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mi.).

ESPN reported this later on Thursday:

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said “warding off” was not an accurate description of their league’s efforts.

“We have been informing [Congressional] staff that the league and clubs have no equity interest,” McCarthy told ESPN in an email. “We explained the difference between the daily fantasy games and the fantasy offerings from the league. It is up to the members if it has a hearing. We were communicating with staff to make sure it had our information.”

Is this good for DFS?

The involvement of the NFL actively trying to stop a DFS hearing would appear to be good news for the industry.

All along, many believed the increasing relationship between professional sports leagues and daily fantasy sports would be a boon, if push ever came to shove. If the NFL is attempting to go to bat for DFS — and it doesn’t even have an equity position in a site — it could potentially bode well for DFS leveraging its relationships with Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NHL in the same way.

The question will be how committed the leagues are to ramping up and maintaining such efforts, if necessary.

What the NFL has said, publicly, before

The NFL, follows the line that daily fantasy sports is a skill game, and not akin to gambling. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, on more than one occasion offered a variation on this statement:

“There is no change in our long-standing position against the proliferation of gambling on our games,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy wrote Monday in an email. “Daily fantasy is considered a game of skill. There’s no league sponsorship agreement or investment in those companies. Clubs may accept traditional advertising within their controlled media properties, including TV, radio, digital, print and stadium signage, provided no club or league marks are included in such advertisements. The daily fantasy marketplace is in its infancy and we continue to follow developments.”

Last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell weighed in on the daily fantasy sports industry in the wake of the DraftKings data leak:

“[I]t’s hard to see the influence that it could have on the outcome of a game because individual players are picking different players from different teams, mashing them up, you might call it,” Goodell told reporters on Wednesday. “[I]t’s not based on the outcome of a game, which is what our biggest concern is with sports betting.”

The NFL’s relationship to DFS

The NFL, unlike the other major professional sports leagues, does not have an equity position in either daily fantasy sports site, and does not have an overarching partnership with DraftKings or FanDuel. But it has become increasingly intertwined with daily fantasy:

So, obviously, the NFL has an interest in DFS. It will be interesting to see how that relationship plays out moving forward.