On Thursday, we learned that Congress will hold a hearing regarding daily fantasy sports.
Right now, we don’t know who we will see testifying at that hearing. Below are some educated guesses and speculation on who might make the trip to Capitol Hill.
First, the backstory on Congress and DFS
Sources told Legal Sports Report on Thursday that the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade is planning a May 11 hearing on daily fantasy sports, confirming an earlier report at ESPN.
That hearing comes after a lot of chatter on the subject late in 2015. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) originally called for the hearing, which the Republican chairman of the House Energy And Commerce Committee, Rep. Frank Upton (R-Mich.), seemed inclined to grant.
After months of speculation, the hearing is becoming reality, as DFS will be considered alongside sports betting and online gambling.
Potential witnesses at a DFS hearing
Here are some people who potentially could — or should — find their way in front of the hearing:
The DFS industry
Beyond that, one would hope that someone representing the interests of smaller DFS operators — or at least or anyone other than the “Big Two” — would get the call. Someone like Seth Young — the COO of Star Fantasy Leagues who has spoken at length in public forums on DFS regulation — would make a lot of sense.
Executives from another second-tier operator like Yahoo, Fantasy Feud or Fantasy Aces would also be a smart addition to the mix. DraftOps — which has deals with teams in Washington, D.C. — is also a possibility, as are representatives of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.
It would be difficult to have this hearing without some sort of representation from the major North American professional sports leagues, all of which have some involvement in daily fantasy.
That would include:
- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
- NBA Commissioner Adam Silver
- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman
- Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred
- Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber
It almost seems certain that Silver, who has been at the forefront of the sports betting and DFS issues, will be asked in front of the committee.
Manfred and Goodell seem like good bets, too. Interestingly, the NFL had been characterized as trying to keep itself out of any such DFS hearing months ago.
Legal and industry experts
Congressmen will want to learn more about the industry when the subcommittee holds its hearing. That means legal and other industry experts will likely be called upon.
On the legal side of things, Marc Edelman has written extensively on state laws vis a vis DFS, and the intersection of state and federal law on the subject. Ryan Rodenberg is one of the best options on federal law, sports betting and DFS.
LSR writer and publisher Chris Grove has appeared in numerous states as an expert on the DFS industry. He or research firm Eilers & Krejcik‘s Adam Krejcik would be able to provide data on the DFS market.
No small part of the equation in recent months has been how states want to handle DFS.
The sponsor of the Virginia bill that became law — Sen. Ryan McDougle — would seem like a smart choice from the standpoint of both proximity and relevancy.
Other smart choices of lawmakers who have introduced bills would include Rep. Michael Zalewski (Illinois), Sen. John Bonacic (NY) and Assemblyman Adam Gray (California).
Hearing their interests and motivations behind legislation could be informative to the subcommittee.
The above suggestions are not meant to be an exhaustive list of potential or qualified witnesses. Other possibilities include:
- State AGs who have been involved in DFS, from the friendly (Massachusetts AG Maura Healey) to the not-so-friendly (New York AG Eric Schneiderman).
- The original architects of the two main federal laws in play: UIGEA and PASPA.
- American Gaming Association CEO Geoff Freeman.
- National Council on Problem Gambling Executive Director Keith Whyte
- Professional DFS players.