March 18, 2010 (CAP Newswire) – As the stakes get higher in the fight to legalize and regulate online gambling in the U.S., some observers in the online gambling world are starting to zero in on one of the biggest obstacles to that goal: The professional sports industry, and, more specifically, the NFL.
It’s true that the NFL is one of the most die-hard opponents to fully legalized and regulated online gambling in the United States. Any time an effort is made by a legislator to regulate online gambling, the NFL is among the first to send lobbyists in opposition to the plan.
“As soon as they heard any talk about poker players trying to get internet gambling legalized, they immediately showed up and started talking to people,” Representative Jim McDermott says of his experience last year introducing a bill into Congress to legalize online poker, according to PokerNews.com. “They were saying it was terrible, that poker playing is the worst thing in the world and we shouldn’t have that in this country. It’s just about the money. They want all poker players to throw their cards down and start a fantasy football team.”
The fear, apparently, is that if online poker is regulated, then online sports betting would be soon to follow. And that would take a lot of money out of the pockets of the NFL and its partners, who currently have a pretty tight grip on the sports betting market in the U.S.
(In order to avoid strong opposition from professional sports organizations, Barney Frank has left online sports betting out of his legislation to legalize online gambling.)
There’s a feeling that this stance of the NFL’s is somewhat hypocritical, given how much it promotes fantasy football, where players also bet money on the prospects of their favorite teams (via their favorite players) winning or losing.
“Most experts would like to know what makes betting on fantasy sports any different from the other forms of online gambling,” states an editorial at CasinoNewsAuthority.com. “It would seem that the only difference is that the NFL sent lobbyists to Washington to petition for an online gambling ban with an exception for fantasy sports.
“It would be easy to assume that this would give the sports leagues one of the only legal forms of sports betting or online gambling within the United States.”
The irony is that many Internet poker players are also sports fans, and usually big fans of the NFL. But online poker affiliates who want to get Internet poker regulated nationally should know just what groups are actively working to make sure that day will never come.