Dear Member of Congress:
As representatives of American sports, we are writing to ask you to co-sponsor H.R. 4411, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Passage of this bill is long overdue. It needs to become law in 2006 in order to preserve the integrity of our respective sports.
Sports gambling threatens the character of team sports. Our games stand for the values of clean and healthy competition, and rewarding teamwork, preparation and honest effort. When sports gambling is prevalent, the games begin to represent a “quick fix,” the desire to get something for nothing, and even corruption. Allowing rampant sports gambling can cause a cynical and suspicious perception of athletic events, in place of the traditional American values they should represent.
Gambling on Internet websites is already illegal throughout the United States. No state has authorized this type of gambling, and Federal criminal laws support the enforcement of state gambling laws. Unfortunately, there is a booming industry of offshore websites accepting bets and wagers from persons located in the United States. Because these businesses are located offshore, they usually cannot be reached through state or federal law enforcement. Easy access to Internet gambling websites and lack of law enforcement give the U.S. public a misimpression that Internet gambling is legal. This encourages widespread gambling by minors and young adults, and it holds the potential to tarnish our sports if continued unchecked.
Sports betting has well-documented harmful effects, as Congress made clear when passing the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). Unfortunately, in the years since PASPA’s enactment, sports gambling on the Internet has undermined Congressional policy. H.R. 4411 is the most recent refinement of a multi-Congress effort to address this problem and we strongly endorse its purpose and content.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act does not change the law with respect to what is currently legal and illegal, but it adds important and workable enforcement tools that will prevent or interdict illegal Internet gambling transactions even when the websites are operated offshore.
We ask that you move quickly to co-sponsor this important legislation and get it to the President’s desk as soon as possible.
Jeffrey Pash, Executive VP and General Counsel
National Football League
Tom Ostertag, Senior VP and General Counsel
Major League Baseball
Richard Buchanan, Senior VP and General Counsel
National Basketball Association
William Daly, Deputy Commissioner
National Hockey League
Elsa Kircher Cole, General Counsel
National Collegiate Athletic Association