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Comment for Industry Filing 20-004

  • From: Les Bernal
    Stop Predatory Gambling

    Comment No: 64804
    Date: 1/28/2021

    Comment Text:


    1) If approved by the CFTC, the proposed event contracts would further extend the institutionalized racism of state-sanctioned gambling and how it has reconfigured the nation’s tax code to benefit whites at the expense of black and brown people.

    While on paper, racial groups are not required to pay different sets of taxes, the tax dollars derived from citizen gambling losses to commercialized sports betting and other forms of state-sanctioned gambling represent a form of systemic racial discrimination if not by intent then certainly by effect.

    The result has been a continual reconfiguration of state tax code to redistribute tax liability along racial lines in which black and brown tax dollars have steadily displaced white tax dollars. It has blocked capital accumulation for people of color, it has hoarded resources for many whites, and reallocated minority capital through unfair distributions of tax burdens.

    Allowing sports books and casinos to lay off sports bets with futures contracts would further intensify the outflow of personal wealth from these same communities because these are the same communities who are already the most targeted by gambling operators.

    2) This proposal would further restrict mobility out of poverty for tens of millions of everyday Americans, whites and people of color alike.

    The RSBIX NFL Futures Contracts proposal comes before the CFTC at a time when most Americans are financially broke: 45% of citizens have $0 in savings and nearly 70% of Americans have less than $1,000 in a savings account.

    Yet American families are on a collision course to lose more than $1 trillion of personal wealth to commercialized gambling over the next eight years. That amount of losses will be even larger if the CFTC permits sportsbooks and casinos to lay off sports bets with event contracts.

    When states bring in commercialized gambling including sports betting, the almost sole focus has been to maximize profits, not protect the public interest. That’s because a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict exists between the interests of state-sanctioned gambling and the public interest: the state is charged with protecting the public from the very business practices that generate more revenue for the state.

    The resulting public policy implications have been the equivalent of putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank. These proposed gambling futures contracts, if authorized by the CFTC, will draw a lot more blood from everyday Americans and put it into that blood bank.

    3) We respectfully urge the Commissioners to reflect on why Congressional leaders would add commercialized gambling schemes to be included on a notorious list of activities to be prohibited from event contracts such as “terrorism,” “assassination,” and “war.” Was its inclusion a typo? Was it because Congress just didn’t understand that event contracts involving the commercialized gambling business are no different than “grain futures,” as one commenter claimed in his recent letter of support to the Commission?

    The reason why Congress included it on such a notorious list is because commercialized gambling is no ordinary commodity.

    What separates commercialized sports betting and other forms of commercialized gambling from every other business, including vices like alcohol and tobacco, is it’s a form of consumer financial fraud, similar to price-gouging and false advertising, that results in life-changing financial losses for many citizens. Citizens are conned into thinking they can win money on games that are designed to get them fleeced in the end. If you pay for a pizza, a ticket to a sporting event, or a glass of wine, that’s what you receive in return. In commercialized gambling, what you receive is a financial exchange offering the lure that you might win money. But this financial exchange is mathematically stacked against you so inevitably you lose your money in the end, especially if you keep gambling. Success only comes at someone else’s expense. All of this explains why commercialized gambling is illegal unless you run the gambling scheme in partnership with state government.

    4) But there is an even more revealing fact about why commercialized gambling is no ordinary commodity. With the zeal of a teetotaler, most of the people who operate and invest in commercialized gambling such as sports betting, regional casinos and lotteries, along with the public officials who lobby to bring them in, don’t gamble themselves even though they cause life-changing financial losses for millions of Americans.

    5) Lastly, those parties with a vested financial interest in overturning the CFTC’s prohibition on event contracts involving gambling have attempted to claim that the act of laying off sports bets is not related to gambling. Instead, in the words of ErisX CEO Thomas Chippas, the event contracts proposals involve “athletic competition, sports team performance and the like – which are not themselves gaming activities. Yet almost every letter the CFTC has received in support of the proposed RSBIX NFL Futures Contracts is from a casino, sports book, or an individual or group with financial ties to commercialized gambling interests. This list of endorsers includes a letter of support from the national lobbying group for casino gambling and their partners, the American Gaming Association. But the proponents want the Commission and the public to conclude these event contracts are not related to gambling per Commission regulation 40.11(a)(1).

    Thank you for your attention to what is at stake in this matter and for the work you and your staff members do.


    Les Bernal
    National Director
    Stop Predatory Gambling
    Washington, DC

    About Stop Predatory Gambling

    A 501c3 non-profit based in Washington, DC, Stop Predatory Gambling is a national social reform network of individuals and partner groups with members of more than 1 million people.