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After Supreme Court Decision, the Business of Sports Is About to Change Radically. This Expert Explains What You Need to Know.
May 24, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

I’m a baseball fan. When I lived in the Bay Area, I was a season ticket holder to the San Francisco Giants. And every baseball fan knows about Pete Rose, the preternaturally talented player who scandalized his sport when it was revealed he bet on baseball, including games involving his own team. Now, no one is contemplating allowing players or managers to bet on games in their own sport. But the Pete Rose story serves as a grim reminder of what can happen with sports gambling.

The trouble is that sports gambling is fun! The thrill of making some dough on your team just adds to the excitement of the sport. It’s also hugely profitable for business and government. So when the Supreme Court of the United States released their decision on Murphy vs. NCAA last week, the gambling-loving world rejoiced. SCOTUS determined that the 1992 federal law called Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) violated the Constitution’s anti-commandeering clause, thus striking down the law.

Mark Conrad is a professor of law and ethics at Fordham University, where he has taught in the School of Law and in the Gabelli School of Business. He’s also the director of Gabelli’s Sports Business Concentration, and is the author of The Business of Sports -; Off the Field, In the Office, On the News. Professor Conrad was kind enough to share with me some of his thoughts on this landmark decision.

1. Nothing’s Actually Changed…Yet.

The Court’s decision caused an avalanche of news and commentary, but, “At the moment, not much has changed,” says Conrad. The decision opened the door to huge change, but nothing is actually different yet. Conrad explains, “The court declared unconstitutional the Federal law that prohibits sports gambling. It did not sanction or permit sports gambling.” So what happens now? Conrad says no one really knows: “It is now up to the states, or the federal government, to decide.” Here’s where it get interesting!

2. The Devil Is in the Details.

“This story is only beginning,” says Conrad, who also has a degree from Columbia’s School of Journalism. “No state has enact a gambling scheme, although New Jersey may soon,” he says. The question is what happens next. For starters, Conrad asks, “Will states legalize it? And if so, which ones, and when?” Next comes the what. Conrad wants to know, “Will it apply to all sports or just pro sports?” And finally, the how. Conrad ponders: “What will be the license fees for companies wishing to do business in the state? Taxes? Anti-corruption measures?” The potential complexities are endless.

3. Congress May Not Be Done.

The Court may have struck down Congress’ PAPSA law, but that doesn’t mean Congress can’t still have the final word. Conrad explains, “The problem with PAPSA was it prevented states from exercising their powers. The law did not mandate a ban on sports gambling – rather, it told the states they were not allowed to enact laws ‘authorizing’ such gambling schemes.” The problem was the way this law was structured, but not the idea behind the law. In fact, Conrad says, “The decision did state that Congress has the power to enact a ban on gambling.” It’s possible Congress could throw some very cold water on all the excitement.

4. Integrity May Be an Issue…Or May Not.

The potential implications for the integrity of sport are fascinating. As with any gambling, there’s risk of corruption. Conrad recalls, “It has occurred in the past, notably in point-shaving in college sports.” But cheating isn’t a given. “In fact, the risk of corruption may decrease with a properly regulated integrity oversight,” Conrad explains. There are examples the US could look to for inspiration. Conrad says, “The UK model has worked well. The betting companies engage in analytics and metric systems to police suspicious gambling patterns and report these anomalies.” The key is not to over-regulate or over-tax it, which may push otherwise legal gambling underground.

5. This Decision Could Have Major Implications for State Versus Federal Authority.

“This is the underlying constitutional issue in this ruling,” Conrad explains. “Ultimately, it is a constitutional law case regarding state powers under the Tenth Amendment.” Here’s his plain-English explanation of the finer constitutional points: “PAPSA was problematic because it ‘commandeered’ states rights. Instead of banning sports gambling, it said could not enact laws authorizing gambling. It’s a subtle difference, but a constitutionally defective one.” This is an important decision in part of a greater shift. According to Conrad, “It continues a trend to give greater deference to state sovereignty.” It will be fascinating to watch as the complexities continue to develop.

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Twitter Explains Why Donald Trump’s Threatening Tweets Don’t Break Its Rules
September 26, 2017 10:25 am|Comments (0)

Twitter has responded to people who criticized it for not taking down President Donald Trump’s bellicose tweet about North Korea, which led the country to claim he had declared war on it. The tweet was too newsworthy to take down, the social media platform said.

The tweet, which Trump posted on Saturday, followed a speech to the United Nations General Assembly by North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho.

Ri said it was “inevitable” that his country would fire missiles at the U.S. mainland. In response, Trump tweeted: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”

Twitter’s terms of service claim the company does not “tolerate behavior that crosses the line into abuse, including behavior that harasses, intimidates, or uses fear to silence another user’s voice.” Many people have wondered why, given the nature of Trump’s Twitter activity, this rule hasn’t led to his suspension from the platform.

In a thread late Monday, Twitter’s policy team addressed the question. The team insisted that it holds “all accounts to the same rules,” but pointed out the factors it takes into account when assessing violations.

“Among the considerations is ‘newsworthiness’ and whether a tweet is of public interest,” the policy team wrote. “This has long been internal policy and we’ll soon update our public-facing rules to reflect this.”

“We need to do better on this, and will,” the team added.

Twitter has a longstanding problem with abuse that many see as contributing to its stagnant user growth. It has brought in several new measures this year to address the issue, such as making it harder for abusive tweets to reach the eyes of their targets, and banning more people for their trollish behavior.

The U.S. administration has strongly denied that Trump’s Saturday tweet was a declaration of war, with White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders calling the assertion “absurd.”

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Microsoft’s CEO explains why his company sued the U.S. government
May 3, 2016 1:15 am|Comments (0)

Microsoft surprised the world last month when it filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice, alleging that the frequent practice of attaching gag orders to search warrants for customer data violates the U.S. Constitution.

On Monday, CEO Satya Nadella told a group of tech luminaries why the company did so: Microsoft has a strong view on its privacy promises to users, and the company will fight to prevent government overreach that, in its view, compromises the principles of privacy. 

Governments have a compelling need to help preserve public safety, but Microsoft wants to make sure that users’ privacy is also preserved, Nadella said. 

To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here


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Motorola explains why the Moto 360 display still isn’t a perfect circle
September 2, 2015 8:15 pm|Comments (0)

moto 360 flat tire

Motorola unveiled the next generation of its Moto 360 smartwatch line today, and much to the frustration of Android fans, the gadget’s screen still doesn’t fill the face of an otherwise perfectly round watch.

That gap, loving called a “shelf” by Motorola, and angrily called a “flat tire” by some consumers, existed in the first generation Moto 360 and will live on in the second — though Motorola tells us it would like to get rid of it, eventually.

During a pre-launch press event yesterday, we asked Jim Wicks, a Motorola executive leading consumer design, about the flaw, to which he called it “the right decision.”

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VentureBeat: How do you react to criticism of the shelf? Through the leaks, people have reacted negatively about what you’re calling the shelf at the bottom of the watch.

Jim Wicks: We could move the shelf out. You’d have a round display and you’d have a thicker bezel or a bigger watch, and we don’t want to do that. We could have done that in the first one and we chose not to. Um, so we really think this 46mm diameter and the 42mm are really important. That shelf, what it’s doing, is it’s hiding some really important sensors — the proximity sensor and other sensors — it’s also where we fold over the display, the display drivers, and by doing that we can keep a very simple, very thin bezel.

From VentureBeat

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…You see some designs that are rectangular, or have some metal coming out, that are really to cover that. We didn’t do that for the reasons I said. We wanted to have the best fit. The most display for the body … So we look at all of that, we decided that having the shelf was the best design decision.

VentureBeat: Is the goal to have both though?

Wicks: Overtime, it would be great, yeah. But we don’t want to sacrifice the fit. ..It’s kind of nice, when you’re scrolling down to have the hard edge there, but it’s really those other factors that drove it.

That’s why we did it. We own that. We believe it’s the right decision.

Wicks’ argument isn’t bad, but it reads like a rationalization of the 360 development team’s limitations. LG’s G Watch is round and doesn’t feature this design flaw (though its bezel is considerably thicker), and Motorola’s own marketing team — or whoever made this commercial — appears to dislike it. Ultimately Motorola aims to eliminate it, if we’re interpreting Wicks’ comment correctly, and that’s a good sign long-term.

If you can tolerate the shelf in the meantime, you can preorder the 360 today.

VB’s research team is studying web-personalization… Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.



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