Even during quarantine, one of America’s most prominent sports gaming attorneys is finding plenty of ways to stay busy.
Besides keeping up with his solo law practice, Daniel Wallach spends time writing for The Athletic and hosting his own podcast. Licensed to practice law in both New York and Florida, he is also a co-founder of the Sports Wagering and Integrity certificate program at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.
I met Wallach last year as one of his students in the program’s inaugural class, and he agreed to catch up with me over the phone for a new installment of our “20 Questions During Quarantine” series.
“The practice of law surrounding sports betting, esports and fantasy sports transcends state borders,” Wallach told me on our call. “If you’re advising companies in this space, your reach must be national, if not global.”
Wallach has quite the reach. You may even have heard him on the radio in Chicago a few times, breaking down some of the latest legal developments in the world of sports law and sports betting.
BetIndiana News: How did the UNH program come to be?
Wallach: It came to me in a flash roughly four years ago. I was out in San Diego, California checking into a hotel for a conference and happened to have an incoming phone call from Michael McCann (the founding director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the UNH School of Law), and I told him about my idea. I was certainly ahead of the curve on sports betting because I had been following this issue since 2011. Seven years before the Supreme Court decision I was focused on this issue and saw that this thing was going to move as a result of a court opinion or a change in federal law. The day for legalized sports betting throughout the United States was drawing near. As a lawyer following this issue very closely, and given my background as a gaming lawyer, I saw that with a sports betting explosion in the United States and expansion nationwide there would be a corresponding need for legal education in that area.
BetIndiana News: So was it the overturning of PASPA that moved things forward?
Wallach: A day later (after PASPA was repealed), Michael called me back and said, “Hey Dan, remember that idea we were talking about four years ago? I think now is the time to move forward with it.” And then it all came together very quickly.
The five-course program — which includes classes like “Safeguarding Sport Integrity & Advanced Integrity Monitoring” and “Sports Betting Operations, Partnerships, Business & Legal” — is taught by a wide range of leading experts from all corners of the sports betting industry.
My background and experience following the industry gave me a leg up in identifying course topics. I may not be able to teach every topic, but from my vantage point, I can identify the areas of expertise and the various subtopics within sports betting and sports integrity from which we would need coverage. My relationships in the gaming industry helped enormously with the recruitment of professors.
BetIndiana News: Can you tell me about your podcast (titled “Conduct Detrimental”)? When did you start it and why?
Wallach: A colleague of mine in the sports legal community, Daniel Werly, came up with the idea. He approached me one day in 2016 and said, “Dan, I have an idea for a sports law podcast. There aren’t any of them out there.” And I said I would love to do it.
BetIndiana News: Where did things go from there?
Wallach: The first order of business was to come up with a name. And if you remember what was dominant in 2016, it was the “Deflategate” controversy — the Tom Brady legal saga — and Daniel and I were both sports law aficionados heavily focused on the legal side of the sports industry. Given the dearth of sports law podcasts, this was a niche — a void that hadn’t been filled by anybody. And we had no trouble getting guests.
BetIndiana News: That’s great how it all came together. What type of guests do you normally bring on?
Wallach: With our own podcast we turn the tables. We booked as guests the journalists who are covering the big stories. They are extremely knowledgeable about the controversy and can talk about it. They are reporting on it and covering it closely. And equally important, they have big Twitter followings.
BetIndiana News: How often are you trying to release a new podcast episode?
Wallach: Constantly. I’ve gotten into a rhythm. First of all, I’m enjoying it. And equally important, I have a podcast producer. All of the heavy lifting that’s done with editing and uploading and bringing the podcast to the people is all being taken care of by the producer. The goal is to do it whenever I have free time. I just came off a stretch where I did nine episodes in about two and a half weeks. I’m hopeful that I can get into a rhythm of at least one episode every week.
BetIndiana News: What are one or two of your favorite episodes you’ve done?
Wallach: My recent three-part series on the disenfranchisement of disabled former NFL players under the new CBA. As a result of the podcast, there may be a curative amendment to the CBA to restore their lost benefits.
BetIndiana News: How many states do you think will have some form of legalized sports betting by the end of 2020?
Wallach: Only a few more at most. Massachusetts will be one of them. Unfortunately, the coronavirus lockdown will outlast most state legislative sessions. Some of them were already close to ending, others would continue into May and June. Most states that have the ability to pass legislation may have to come back next year and start over in January.
BetIndiana News: What about by the end of 2021?
Wallach: Maybe as many as 10 new states next year. I expect Connecticut, Missouri, Ohio, Georgia and Kentucky to be strong candidates for passage of a sports betting law next year, and I wouldn’t count out the mega-states of California, Florida and Texas. Eventually, Florida will have to address the compact issue with the Seminole Tribe, and that should put sports betting back in play next year for the Sunshine State. I also expect California lawmakers to move forward with a proposal next year that would include mobile wagering, and the Texas legislature is back in session in January 2021 after a nearly two-year absence. I would be surprised if, at the end of next year, none of these states have legal sports betting.
BetIndiana News: If you could bring back one sport tomorrow, which one would it be and why?
Wallach: The NHL. I miss the intensity, passion and artistry of pro hockey. I can’t imagine a season without a Stanley Cup.
BetIndiana News: Are there any sports betting or sports industry podcasts that you make a part of your normal routine? If so, what are your favorites?
Wallach: “Gamble On” and “The Business of Betting Podcast”.
BetIndiana News: What’s your go-to quarantine beverage?
Wallach: Iced coffee.
BetIndiana News: Have you watched any good shows or read any good books in quarantine?
Wallach: I’m enjoying binge-watching movies with my wife.
BetIndiana News: What is the best habit you have picked up during quarantine?
BetIndiana News: What is the worst habit you have picked up during quarantine?
Wallach: Going to bed at 4am.
BetIndiana News: What is your predicted date for the return of one of the major U.S. sports leagues?
Wallach: Major League Baseball in July.
BetChicago: Are there any other changes you anticipate in state laws as a result of COVID-19? For example, an easing of in-person registration requirements?
Wallach: A heightened interest in pursuing mobile betting and iGaming legislation — likely to manifest during the 2021 legislative sessions. The pandemic has accentuated the need for states to find alternative revenue sources and to not be so heavily reliant on land-based gambling activities, particularly when online wagering has become so increasingly prevalent across all gambling verticals. The lost tax revenues from the cessation of sports and land-based gambling activities should be a giant wake-up call to state lawmakers, and I suspect in the near future — maybe even later this year — you’ll see an uptick in legislative proposals from states to authorize mobile sports betting, online poker, iGaming, virtual sports and historic racing.
BetIndiana News: Are we more likely to see a reworking of the Wire Act soon as a result of all of this?
Wallach: Not likely for several more years.
BetIndiana News: When do you think bettors in New York City will be able to make a legal wager from the comfort of their couches?
Wallach: January 2022 — following a voter referendum in November 2021.
BetIndiana News: If you had to bet the YES or NO (even money both sides) on presidential election betting in at least one US jurisdiction by 2024, which side would you take?
Wallach: Definitely YES.