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Halting online gambling, steroids and cable sports programming the targets
The National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League and Major League Baseball spent at least $2.6 million lobbying Congress last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, devoted to influencing high-profile issues like the use of steroids, cable programming and maintaining the UIGEA ban which seeks to dislocate online gambling by hampering financial transactions.
Ironically, bearing in mind that it is probably the most gambled on sport in the USA, the NFL has taken the lead in lobbying against Barney Frank's proposed legislation seeking to reverse the ban by regulating the $15 billion industry, reports the Washington DC news medium "Politico."
The league worked with attorneys general, church groups and other sports leagues in 2006 to pass the prohibition, Joe Browne, executive vice president of public affairs for the NFL confirmed.
“We don’t want to be used as a betting vehicle. We don’t want our games to be used that way. And if we can control it, we’ll work hard to do it,” Browne said, steering clear of the controversial carve-outs in the legislation regarding fantasy sports, horse racing and lotteries that have landed the United States in trouble with the World Trade Organisation and the European Union.
And whilst on the subject of protectionist discrimination, the football league has also visited the Hill to protest the cable companies’ treatment of its NFL Network. The league has argued that cable companies are discriminating against the network because it competes with cable-owned sports channels.
The NFL clearly has a major influence on the thinking of hockey administrators, too. Hockey is 'monitoring' rather than actually lobbying so far in 2008, NHL lobbyist Philip Hochberg, told Politico. On Internet gambling, the sport is following the lead of the NFL because football has been “aggressively following that issue,” Hochberg said.
Hockey has had its share of controversy in the gambling milieu, with a prominent coach – Rick Tocchet – making the headlines last year when he was convicted as part of a nation-wide gambling ring that also involved a number of NHL players….and was then allowed to return to the bench as a coach!