The calls for a Congressional hearing into daily fantasy sports have grown in the past two weeks, to the point that at least one occurring seems to be inevitable.
At this point, at least three different committees in Congress appear to be interested in a hearing, with a high-level Republican representative the most recent to get into the mix.
The latest rumblings on a Congressional hearing
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform wants to hold hearings on fantasy sports in November, according to a report from the New York Post.
There has been no official word on this front, but if the chairman of a committee wants a hearing, it’s almost certain to happen.
Interestingly, Chaffetz is also the sponsor of a bill that seeks to ban online gambling in the U.S., the Restoration of America’s Wire Act. Chaffetz is also running for Speaker of the House.
Other members of Congress that want action on DFS
Chaffetz is far from alone in wanting the federal government to take a look at daily fantasy sports:
- Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) was the first to call for a hearing (more below), as well as being the most vocal.
- Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has joined with Pallone to call for action.
- Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) continues to speak on DFS in saying regulation is needed.
- Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to look into the DFS industry.
- Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) requested a hearing.
- Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev) asked for hearings, as well.
In the beginning, New Jersey makes call first
The request was made by Pallone, the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. At the time, some observers chalked it up as a media ploy to draw attention to his state’s ongoing battle to legalize and regulate sports betting. And, obviously part of the strategy was to call attention to the fact that you can’t bet on sports very many places, while daily fantasy sports remained an unregulated activity.
Here are some of his statements from a press release in which he announced that he sent a letter to committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Michael C. Burgess (R-TX):
“Anyone who watched a game this weekend was inundated by commercials for fantasy sports websites, and it’s only the first week of the NFL season,” said Congressman Pallone. “These sites are enormously popular, arguably central to the fans’ experience, and professional leagues are seeing the enormous profits as a result. Despite how mainstream these sites have become, the legal landscape governing these activities remains murky and should be reviewed.”
“Fans are currently allowed to risk money on the performance of an individual player. How is that different than wagering money on the outcome of a game?” noted Pallone.
Also back in September, Upton said a hearing was likely to happen.
Pallone remains on offensive
After the story picked up momentum in October, Pallone continued to beat the drum for a hearing:
- He released a statement the week the story hit.
- Along with Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) he held a press conference near an NFL stadium calling for a closer look at the DFS industry.
- He lauded the decision by Nevada to classify DFS as gambling.