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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US Soccer and MLS Remain Silent On Trump’s Travel Ban

Sticking to sports is no longer an option.

Now that President Trump has temporarily banned entry into the United States of all persons from seven predominantly Muslim countries – court orders be damned — the sports world must deal with a divisive political move that has very real effects on international athletes.

Some top athletes like Olympic Gold Medalist Mo Farah have already condemned Trump’s controversial Executive Order. At least one American league, the NBA, has asked the U.S. Department of State for help in understanding Trump’s Order out of concern for Sudan-born players Thon Maker and Luol Deng.

Yet noticeably and shockingly silent on Trump’s move is the U.S. soccer community and the top professional soccer league in North America, Major League Soccer.

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New Wage Law Makes Free Agency in Philadelphia Awkward

Philadelphia rang in 2017 by becoming the largest American city to allow its government to dictate what is and isn’t healthy for its citizens to drink. The maligned “soda tax” went into effect January 1st tacking on a 1.5 cents per ounce tax on any beverage with sugar in it. Philadelphians are now penalized for consuming soda, sports drinks, juices, teas, and even almond milk. What a time to be alive.

Buried under the soda tax news was another major law passed by City Council that impacts all employers in Philadelphia — including sports teams. On December 8, 2016, City Council unanimously passed Philadelphia Bill No. 160840, which prohibits any employer in the city — both public and private — from inquiring into applicants’ wage histories. Mayor Jim Kenny is expected to sign the bill any day now, which will then take effect 120 days after signing.

Philadelphia is now the first U.S. city to ban employers from asking job applicants about salary histories. Prohibiting employers from asking about salary history is supposed to narrow the wage gap for women and minorities. Obviously, time will tell if this law solves that problem.

But how exactly are Philadelphia’s professional sports teams supposed to approach free agency under this new law while attempting to sign athletes, attract coaches, and recruit front office personnel?

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Steve Silver Exposes How The NCAA Masterfully Blocks Athletes From The Civil Justice System in Vice Sports Feature

Legal Blitz Co-Founder Steve Silver returned to his muckraking days to pen a special feature on a little known NCAA rule that effectively prevents athletes from successfully suing it — particularly when seeking an injunction to stop an erroneous suspension.

In his Vice Sports debut, Silver interviewed former skiing and football legend Jeremy Bloom, Drexel Sports Management Professor Ellen Staurowsky, and a litigator that has gone toe to toe with the NCAA for several high-profile clients, Richard Johnson.

In his piece titled, “How A Little-Known NCAA Rule Shuts Athletes Out of the Legal System,” Silver explores the history and masterful use of the NCAA bylaw known as the Restitution Rule. It is a rule that should concern anyone who believes in open access to the judicial system, impartial judges, and due process for athletes. Read the feature here.

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Colorado Defies PASPA With New Daily Fantasy Pari-Mutuel Offerings

Anyone who has ever read this blog or my pieces for Above the Law know that I fully support gaming in all forms.

In particular, I routinely advocate for nationally legalized sports gambling through the repeal of the problematic and incoherent Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”). Absent Congress completely repealing PASPA, or a Supreme Court reversal via New Jersey’s Hail Mary, we are now left with a system in which Nevada solely enjoys the revenue generated by sports betting, Delaware can offer select parlays, and the rest of the states can ponder why we have such inconsistent gambling laws as they stare at empty coffers.

Americans wager about $150 billion per year on sports betting, and only 3 percent of that is bet in Nevada. What this means is that the rest of the country is missing out on significant revenue that is instead going un-taxed to bookies and offshore websites thanks to a federal law enacted before internet wagering was so prevalent.

This is where creative states like Colorado come in.

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Las Vegas Embraces Esports

Nick Wooldrige, Esq is a nationally-recognized criminal defense attorney based in Nevada. For a personal consultation, you can reach out to him via LV Criminal Defense, 520 S 4th Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101, 702-623-6362.

Bookies in Las Vegas may be salivating a little right now, and  not because of memories of last week’s Thanksgiving turkey.

Betting on eSports in Nevada may start in a few weeks since the Nevada Gaming Policy Committee has suggested Nevada’s state regulatory bodies permit companies to take bets.

“In my conversations, I  feel we possess the organizational infrastructure and won’t require a change in legislation to make this happen,” said Governor Brian Sandoval, the NGPC chairman.

The group approved a referendum telling the Gaming Control Board and Nevada Gaming Commission to move ahead with regulation development. “It is a thing the board has examined. It’s not-problematic and is proper from a gaming perspective,” said Sandoval.

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Botched High School Football Officiating Teaches Tough Lesson That Sometimes The Law Is Simply Not Fair

By Doug Fuglsang. Mr. Fuglsang is a licensed attorney in Illinois and Wisconsin with a Sports Law Certificate from the National Sports Law Institute. He can be reached at doug.fuglsang@gmail.com.

Students of Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois learned a tough lesson last week — sometimes the law isn’t fair.

That is exactly what Illinois High School Association (IHSA) attorney David Bressler explained after a Cook County judge refused to grant Fenwick a temporary restraining order and overturn the controversial outcome of a recent IHSA playoff game.

By all accounts the officials clearly botched the ending of the 7a Semi-final playoff game between Fenwick and Plainfield North high schools. Fenwick was up 10-7 late in the 4th quarter. Rather than punt on fourth down with mere seconds left and risk “the DeSean Jackson play,” Fenwick decided to run out the clock with one last play. The QB took the snap and launched an incomplete pass deep downfield as time expired while the ball hung in the air. The officials flagged Fenwick for intentional grounding because there wasn’t a receiver in the area and awarded Plainfield North an un-timed down. Plainfield tied up the game with a field goal sending the game to overtime where they eventually won on a gutsy two-point conversion 18-17.

After the game, however, the IHSA immediately acknowledged the game-official’s mistake explaining Plainfield should not have received the un-timed down and Fenwick should have won 10-7. Yet the IHSA also explained that they are unable to reverse the outcome on appeal because of by-law 6.033 which states that “the decisions of game officials shall be final; protests against the decision of a game official shall not be reviewed by the Board of Directors.”

Fenwick, obviously angered by this miscarriage of justice, sought the court’s help to remedy the situation, but to no avail.

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Steve Silver To Present At SRLA Conference

Legal Blitz Co-Founder, Steve Silver, is teaming up with frequent Legal Blitz contributor and Coastal Carolina University sports management professor, Amanda Siegrist, to continue his quest of  educating others about college athletes’ due process rights. This time, Silver and Siegrist will have the opportunity to speak at the annual Sports and Recreation Law Association conference in Las Vegas.

Titled, “Thirty Years Later: A Review of Tarkanian, the Supreme Court and the NCAA’s Denial of Due Process,” this presentation will provide an introduction to the concept of due process under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution and explain how American law views due process rights in the context of intercollegiate athletics. By examining the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) deliberate decision to forego due process against the advice of its own general counsel, the seminal U.S. Supreme Court case NCAA v. Tarkanian (1988), and recent disciplinary actions against athletes, this presentation will highlight how the NCAA has deprived college athletes of Constitutional rights in the nearly thirty years since the Supreme Court declared that the NCAA was not a state actor. Further, it will explore potential changes to how the NCAA approaches due process in light of recent litigation and scrutiny of the organization’s disciplinary procedures.

If you are in Vegas March 1-4, be sure to stop by!

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Local Government Makes Operating Stadiums In Philadelphia Much More Expensive

As more cities reach the harsh realization that public financing for sports venues is always a losing proposition for taxpayers, Philadelphia has now passed a bill aimed at recouping some its money via mandated higher wages at stadiums and arenas.

This week, Philadelphia City Council unanimously voted to expand prevailing wage laws to employees or contractors working in “city-subsidized” buildings such as the convention center, hospitals, and stadiums. This also includes many university buildings. The bill will raise the average wage for service workers, such as security guards or janitors, by several dollars an hour.

Per the language of the bill, the following workers will soon see pay raises: “watchman, guard, doorperson, building cleaner, janitor, custodian, porter, maintenance person, handyperson, elevator operator or starter, window cleaner, desk clerk, housekeeper, gardener, [and] groundskeeper and cleaner of public property or the public right-of-way.”

What makes this new law particularly interesting is that Philadelphia was already one of the few municipalities in the country with a prevailing wage law for building services workers. Now, however, more properties and facilities will fall under the purview of a mandatory wage.

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