Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, renewed his call for congressional hearings on the legal status of fantasy sports leagues Tuesday on allegations of "insider trading" by employees of such sites. Pallone is not opposed to legal gambling, but it is the unregulated part that bothers him.
A committee spokesperson had no comment, but an Energy & Commerce Committee aide speaking not for attribution, said: "Recent reports raise additional questions about the safety, fairness, and integrity of these new platforms for fan engagement. We have a responsibility to protect consumers and ensure that those participating are not being taken advantage of. Our staff is looking into these issues and we will keep you informed as our work continues.”
Anyone watching the NFL's games on TV could hardly miss the fantasy league ads that have covered the contests like an all-pro cornerback and heftily branded and even been integrated into the TV coverage itself.
Pallone was among those, and last month asked that the House Energy & Commerce Committee (he is ranking member, not chairman, so doesn't not control the calendar) hold a hearing into the legal status of the leagues and the millions of dollars that changes hands on a weekly basis "given the Committee’s jurisdiction over professional sports and gambling and the overwhelming popularity of fantasy sports websites."
Tuesday, Pallone put an exclamation point on that request using the reports to make that point.
“The allegation of ‘insider trading’ by employees of daily fantasy sports operators is a prime example of why we need a Congressional hearing to review the legal status of fantasy sports and sports betting," he said. "Daily fantasy sports is functioning in a Wild West void within the legal structure.
"Like professional sports betting, fantasy sports should be legal," he said, "but both are currently operating in the shadows. With little legal oversight and deep investments into these sites by the same professional sports leagues that oppose traditional sports wagering, these issues are ripe for Congressional review.”