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NFL Asks for Sports Betting Standards

By Ben Massam

Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League (NFL) called upon Congress to enact regulatory standards for states that pursue legalized sports betting in a statement issued Monday. The statement is the latest cautionary reaction from one of the major sports leagues in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling which struck down a federal law banning wagers on team sports last Monday. The decision has wide-reaching implications for the racing industry, as numerous tracks–led by Monmouth Park in New Jersey, which could be first to market in early June–are eyeing the addition of sports books.

“Our fans, our players and our coaches deserve to know that we are doing everything possible to ensure no improper influences affect how the game is played on the field,” Goodell stated. “This…ruling by the Supreme Court has no effect on that unwavering commitment.”

According to the statement, the NFL is seeking legislation that preserves the integrity of the game in a new landscape where legalized sports wagering is widespread.

Goodell continued, “We are asking Congress to enact uniform standards for states that choose to legalize sports betting that include, at a minimum, four core principles: (1) There must be substantial consumer protections; (2) Sports leagues can protect our content and intellectual property from those who attempt to steal or misuse it; (3) Fans will have access to official, reliable league data; and (4) Law enforcement will have the resources, monitoring and enforcement tools necessary to protect our fans and penalize bad actors here at home and abroad.”

While Goodell’s statement did not explicitly mention a request for compensation, the NBA and the MLB have previously called for legislation that would allow them to receive 1% of the gross handle on all of a league’s games as an “integrity fee” to help ensure games are conducted honestly.

That suggestion was met with a strong push back from Dennis Drazin, CEO of Darby Development, which operates Monmouth Park on behalf of the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. Drazin suggested the idea of an integrity fee is hypocritical, because it is often errors by league officials that impact the results of games and by association, would affect the outcome of sports bets. Moreover, opponents of integrity fees have asserted that legalized sports betting is inherently more regulated and therefore creates a safer environment for the leagues when compared to the illegal sports betting market.

The arrival of sports wagering in New Jersey is currently under a delay as the state senate finalizes legislation.

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