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Michelle Cohen Quoted in Law360 on how Deregulation of Net Neutrality Could Boost Online Sports Betting

Law360 (June 5, 2018, 8:28 PM EDT) — As the Federal Communications Commission moves forward with its net neutrality rule deregulation, states are ramping up their sports betting offerings in the wake of a favorable Supreme Court decision. The timing of this convergence is coincidental, but some experts speculate it could contribute to a boom in online sports betting if gamblers are allowed pay for fast-tracked internet service.

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law prohibiting states from legalizing sports betting, opening the door to legalized sports gambling in states across the country. Meanwhile, the FCC is preparing to roll out its pared-down requirements on internet service providers, which will be freed from prohibitions on paid-priority arrangements…

Once the net neutrality rules sunset, experts anticipate that ISPs could start offering “packages” curated for different web-browsing needs, such as specially priced plans that grant priority access to certain high-bandwidth streaming sites. Those packages could also be tailored to accommodate real-time betting, said Dennis Ehling, a Blank Rome LLP litigation partner who specializes in gaming.

He likened the concept to high-speed traders who have been known to pay a premium to place their computer servers closer to stock exchanges, gaining a very minute yet valuable advantage. Like traders, elite gamblers also require lightning-quick exchanges of information to be competitive, Ehling said.

“If those types of things are available, there will certainly be some high-end players who can try to take advantage of them if they can,” he said.

This particularly rings true as states expand their online sports betting offerings to allow players to place micro-bets on aspects of games that change by the second, said Michelle Cohen, a member of Ifrah Law who advises online companies on communications compliance issues.

If companies can strike a priority arrangement to expedite the speed of their games, it helps players enjoy the games more and keeps them from contesting the fairness of bets, she said.

“That obviously improves the experience for the players, and it helps from a consumer-protection side,” Cohen said.

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