Fort Lauderdale, FL, June 3, 2015 – The nation’s top sports lawyers converged in Baltimore last month to attend the 41st Annual Conference of the Sports Lawyers Association (SLA). The three-day conference featured 25 panels and breakout sessions on legal issues facing the sports industry, including those surrounding how teams discipline players and owners as well as challenges to the NCAA and to college sports. The conference was a huge success, with over 800 people in attendance. For many, the highlight of the conference was the keynote address given by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Justice Stevens, an amazingly spry and sharp 95 years young, regaled the audience with stories about baseball’s antitrust exemption, noting where the court erred in relying on stare decisis in the noted “baseball trilogy cases.”
Among his most powerful statements, Justice Stevens’ states, “it simply makes no sense to treat organized baseball differently from other professional sports under the antitrust laws.” You can read his speech, in its entirety, here.
Becker & Poliakoff shareholder, Daniel Wallach, was featured in a panel discussion immediately preceding Justice Stevens’ keynote address. Talk about a high-pressure gig!
Dan’s panel, entitled Sports Gambling and Daily Fantasy Sports: Cardinal Sin or Wave of the Future?, discussed recent efforts to legalize sports wagering amidst the growing phenomenon of daily fantasy sports. Joining Dan on the panel were Ryan Rodenberg (the moderator), Mark Locke (CEO, Sport Integrity Monitor), Marc Zwillinger (Managing Member, ZwillGen PLLC), and Aaron Zelinsky (Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Maryland).
During the panel discussion, Dan explained how the legalization of sports betting and the continued growth of daily fantasy sports could affect the four major professional sports leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL). Here are some highlights of Dan’s comments:
- “Legal sports betting could raise the salary cap in professional leagues by “tens of millions of dollars” per team;
- “I believe that insider information is the single greatest threat to the daily fantasy sports industry.”
- “It’s important that the leagues have a plan in place and educate players on the possible risks and ramifications due to the emerging popularity of daily fantasy sports”
- “If daily fantasy sports becomes vulnerable in any way because of a controversy or a legal issue, that may shut down the momentum for legal sports betting.”
The discussion also touched on the ongoing New Jersey sports betting case. Wallach said the Jersey case “could have the greatest impact on professional sports at every level” and that a win by NJ “could mean legalized sports gambling across the U.S. by the end of 2015.”
For more coverage of the conference, click here.