The Truth About Sports Betting Integrity Fees

The anxiously-awaited SCOTUS sports betting decision could arrive as early as March 19, but likely no later than June. If my prior predictions are correct, PASPA is dead and states will be free to join Nevada in offering legal sports betting.

Apparently the professional sports leagues, MLB and NBA in particular, are not feeling so hot about their chances. Sensing a loss at the Supreme Court, the leagues are now going around state to state trying to lobby for “integrity fees” aka a cut of the action. It is a transparent money grab.

But as I recently analyzed for Above the Law, cutting the leagues in via integrity fees will actually harm the integrity of the games that the leagues claim they are protecting by keeping business offshore. You can read my full take here.

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The Speaking Circuit Begins

For all the East Coast sports law enthusiasts out there, you can check out Legal Blitz Co-Founder Steve Silver in New York City next month at the Sixth Annual Cardozo Sports Law Symposium on March 16, 2018. Silver will appear on a panel called “Sports, Free Speech and the First Amendment” with Scooby Axson, Writer at Sports Illustrated & US Army Veteran; Mark Conrad, Director of the Sports Business Program at Fordham & Sports Author; and Elie Mystal, Executive Editor for Above the Law.

There are 4.5 CLE credits available with other panels on “The Complex Relationship between the NCAA and NBA” and “The Future of Sports in the Age of Virtual Reality.” You can register here.

If you can make it, be sure to say hello.

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The Fate of PASPA Is Now In The Supreme Court’s Hands

After six years of litigation and three lower-court losses, the U.S. Supreme Court finally heard New Jersey’s request to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”) last week. Know as “the sports betting” case, Christie v. NCAA could dramatically change how Americans consume and wager on sports while also resulting in monumental commandeering and constitutional rulings from the nation’s highest court.

This is a case I have written extensively about for the past few years and even handicapped this summer. I still believe my 6-3 prediction will hold true, but now that argument has taken place, you can decide for yourselves. The Court will likely issue its ruling early this summer.

Here is the transcript of the arguments as well as the actual audio. Take an hour and enjoy. It is well worth it.

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Why is it illegal to play online poker in the US?

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Poker is one of the most popular online games in the world. So, why is it not legal to play the game online in the US? The truth is that playing poker online is only actually illegal in Washington state. However, the overall truth is more complicated than that.

As far back as 1961, the Interstate Wire Act made it illegal for people to use wire transfers to gamble online. This law was used by the US Justice Department in 2005, to threaten companies such as Google with legal action, regarding the availability of online gaming advertising. The situation was clarified in 2011, when the Justice Department declared that the Wire Act only applied to online sports betting. So, the legislation did not affect online poker activity.

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Handicapping the Supreme Court Votes on Sports Betting

It is the first Monday in October, which means the Supreme Court is back in session.

This term will feature several major cases, but for sports fans there is no case more significant than what most are calling the sports betting case. It is really two cases now consolidated as one: Christie v. NCAA and New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association v. NCAA.

At its most basic level, the case is about whether or not PASPA is unconstitutional. So will we have legalized sports betting? I handicapped the nine Supreme Court justice recently on Vice Sports to predict how they might vote on this weighty issue. I think by this time next year we’ll have sports books in at least a dozen states. Go ahead and take my picks to the bank.

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Transforming Into A Sports Law Expert For 104.9 The Horn

Legal Blitz Co-Founder Steve Silver recently joined Trey Elling and Brad Kellner on The Horn 104.9 FM in Austin, Texas to discuss a wild summer of sports law issues including the Supreme Court taking the sports betting case, OJ receiving parole, Hugh Freeze getting caught with his hand in the escort cookie jar, and Chris Spielman’s lawsuit against Ohio State.

Silver recently attempted to handicap how the nine Supreme Court justices will rule as to whether or not to strike down PASPA and pave the way for legal sports betting. It was his last piece for the now shuttered Vice Sports.

You can listen to Silver’s full interview here: Silver Interview on The Horn

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Legal Blitz Founder Named Super Lawyers Rising Star

The Legal Blitz is thrilled to announce that one of its founders, Steve Silver, is now a 2017 Super Lawyers Rising Star. Silver earned Rising Star honors for civil litigation defense in Pennsylvania.

A program of Thomson Reuters, Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers who, through a peer review and independent research process, have been identified as attaining a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.

Only the top 5 percent of Pennsylvania’s 50,000 lawyers and the top 2.5 percent of up-and-coming Pennsylvania lawyers are named to the Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists, respectively.

Candidates are evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement, including verdicts and settlements; honors and awards; special licenses and certifications; pro bono and community service efforts; and scholarly lectures and writings. The ultimate objective of Super Lawyers is to create a credible, comprehensive and diverse list of outstanding attorneys that can be used as a resource for other practitioners and consumers searching for legal counsel.

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Maine’s DFS Regulation Bill Stalls In Committee

Thanks to this nation’s incoherent and inconsistent gaming laws at the federal level, the Daily Fantasy Sports industry is working overtime to deal with potentially 50 different state-level regulations.

But don’t feel sorry for DFS operators. Regulation is what the industry wants.

After DFS exploded into the nation’s conscience by purchasing nearly every commercial spot during the 2014 NFL season, states have struggled with how to deal with the online games. Thus far, 12 states have expressly permitted DFS to operate within their borders while five states have banned DFS. There is legislation pending in about 20 other states to license, tax, and regulate DFS — one of which is Maine.

Maine’s neighbor, Massachusetts, was one of the first states to regulate DFS due in large part because it is the home of DraftKings’ headquarters. Pulling DFS out of legal limbo in Vacationland has proven a slow slog so far.

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The Effort to Legalize March Madness Brackets in Pennsylvania Continues

Since “Selection Sunday” is right around the corner, allow this to serve as your regular reminder that those March Madness brackets about to flood your office are still technically not legal.

As I have written about in the past, bracket pools seemingly violate three separate federal laws, not to mention a myriad of state criminal laws.

First, the Interstate Wire Act of 1961 disallows individuals from “engaging in the business of betting or wagering [through the knowing use of] a wire communication for the transmission in interstate or foreign commerce.” Since the Wire Act applies to the Internet, online tournament pools that collect entry fees and pay out prize money would violate the Wire Act.

Second, the Uniform Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) makes it illegal for those “engaged in the business of betting or wagering” to “knowingly accept” funds in connection with the participation of another person in unlawful Internet gambling. Although the UIGEA offers a special carve-out provision for “fantasy sports,” this carve-out only applies to games where winning outcomes are not based on the final score of actual game results. Since brackets are based solely on the final outcome of individual games, the fantasy sports carve-out is inapplicable and tournament pools do not comply with the UIGEA.

Finally, the hopefully soon-to-be extinct Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”), makes it illegal for any private person to operate a wagering scheme based on a competitive game in which “professional or amateur athletes participate.” PASPA does not include a specific exemption for March Madness pools. So there is an argument to be made that PASPA outlaws brackets.

Without diving into the abyss of federalism and 11th Amendment issues, at least one state is trying to let its citizens have a little fun this time of year. At the end of January, Pennsylvania State Senator Lisa Boscola introduced a bill to specifically legalize small office pools. It is currently awaiting considering in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Steve Silver Talks SCOTUS and Sports on The Horn 104.9 FM

Legal Blitz Co-Founder Steve Silver recently joined Trey Elling and Brad Kellner on The Horn 104.9 FM in Austin, Texas to explain how President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, could impact the future of sports.

Silver recently authored an in-depth analysis of how Gorsuch could cast deciding votes on sports betting, paying college athletes, and the enforcement of arbitration provisions for Vice Sports.

You can listen to Silver’s full interview here: Silver Interview on The Horn

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