Online Casino Bill Shows NFL Making US Government Policy
While gaming foe Spencer Bachus railed about the undue influence of online casino lobbyists, a far more powerful and insidious lobby affected the markup of Barney Frank's proposal to license Internet gaming sites. Representative Peter King cited the concern of the NFL in offering an amendment to H.R. 2267 which emphasizes sports betting will remain illegal on the Internet and elsewhere.
Bachus suggested that both votes of committee members and testimony of experts were swayed by lobbying paid for with online gambling dollars. He replied to a submission by John Campbell of California, in which Campbell listed four community spokesmen from Internet groups, financial institutions, and civil libertarians who supported the bill, as containing statements from two receiving funding from Internet casinos.
When pressed by Chairman Frank to name his two contaminated suspects, Bachus declined. But no questions were asked as to lobbying and campaign funding by the National Football League, a business association whose interests were clearly represented regardless of the best concerns of US residents.
Frank noted that many of the proposed amendments were not about the morality of gambling or protecting children, but protectionist attempts to control competition. He stated sarcastically that he could understand the NFL's worry over the bill,as "people might start betting on sports" if the amendment weren't added.
Illegal sports betting is considered a hundred-billion dollar industry in the US.
King directly stated that his amendment was necessary, despite language in the bill already excluding sports betting from the provisions of the bill, because "the NFL has concerns about gambling." Even King, who has been a staunch supporter of Frank's online casino bills, wanted to appease the imposing might of the NFL.
Other committee members also expressed doubt as to the need to create a special clause for sports betting, but conceded that argument will have to advance to the future, One observer noted that the failure to stand up to the special interests will mean revisiting the issue soon.
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