U.S. sports leagues oppose Frank bill

Congressman Barney Frank

Major sports leagues, both professional and amateur, have registered their opposition to the legislation proposed by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) that will legalize and regulate online gambling.

TheHill.com reported May 1 that organizations such as the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball along with some amateur organizations sent a letter to members of the House Financial Services Committee.

The letter expressed the coalition's opposition to online gambling and urged members to oppose the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act of 2007 that Frank introduced in the House April 26.

In the letter, sent by e-mail to the committee members, Martin Gold, Lobbyist at Covington & Burling which represents the NFL, said, "Our sports organizations would very strongly oppose any effort to legalize any online sports gambling."

He continued saying the organizations would oppose legalizing any type of online gambling because they don't believe that "differential treatment of sports gambling and other gambling online would be sustainable in the current environment."

The letter was signed by five major sports organizations.

According to TheHill.com, many critics of last year's Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) complained about a carve-out in the bill for fantasy sports leagues.

A lobbyist quoted by the site said that most people playing in those fantasy leagues are playing for money, making the practice pretty close to sports betting. He found it hypocritical of the sports organizations to oppose online gambling but be fine with the fantasy leagues.

The UIGEA also left the door open for horse race betting and state lotteries, while putting in place more enforcement to crack down on other online gambling such as online casinos and poker.

Frank's bill seeks to set up a regulatory system to legalize and license online gambling in the United States.

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