The NFL has been contacting members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in an effort to prevent a congressional hearing on the league's relationship with fantasy sports, multiple sources told ESPN.
Politico first reported the NFL's efforts to "ward off" a hearing requested by U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone in mid-September. Pallone, a ranking democrat from New Jersey, asked the committee to examine the relationship between professional sports and fantasy sports and to review the legal status of daily fantasy sports and sports betting.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said "warding off" was not an accurate description of the league's efforts.
"We have been informing [Congressional] staff that the league and clubs have no equity interest," McCarthy told ESPN in an email. "We explained the difference between the daily fantasy games and the fantasy offerings from the league. It is up to the members if it has a hearing. We were communicating with staff to make sure it had our information."
"It is no surprise that the NFL does not want a hearing on daily fantasy sports," Pallone told ESPN. "They are deeply invested and are already engaging in hypocrisy by supporting fantasy sports betting while opposing sports betting at casinos and the tracks. The reality is, the daily fantasy sports industry is operating in a total void within the legal structure. And now with allegations of 'insider trading' by employees of fantasy sports operators and with an FBI and Department of Justice investigation, the time is past due for a hearing."
The hearing is expected to be granted, but as of Thursday had not been scheduled.
Pallone, in his letter requesting the hearing, noted that, historically, professional sports leagues have been strongly opposed to sports betting but at the same time have fully embraced fantasy sports.
"Given the professional sports leagues professional players deep involvement with fantasy sports, this Committee, as the Committee with jurisdiction over the professional sports and gambling, should examine the relationship between fantasy sports and gambling and the relationship between professional sports leagues, teams and players and fantasy sports operators," Pallone wrote.
Pallone and U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez also have asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate daily fantasy operators who allowed employees with access to nonpublic information to compete on rival sites.
"We believe fantasy sports should be legal and subject to appropriate consumer and competitive protections," Pallone and Menendez said in statement released after a Tuesday news conference.
In addition, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a democrat from Connecticut, has requested an investigation by the FTC and Department of Justice to look into whether daily fantasy operators "have been using deceptive, misleading advertising, and for the DOJ to examine whether there have been violations of criminal law."
The FTC confirmed to ESPN that it had received separate requests to investigate daily fantasy operators, but said that, because all FTC investigations are non-public, it could not confirm or deny any investigation.