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Netflix/Fox Legal Fight Could Have Effect On Sports World

“The Hollywood Reporter speculated in March that a Netflix victory could allow Anthony Davis to leave New Orleans and sign with another team immediately”

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Netflix and 21st Century Fox are currently in a legal battle concerning entertainment executives under lengthy contracts. A struggle that seemed rooted entirely in the entertainment business has turned to threaten professional sports’ means of contracting players.

The case initially began when Fox sued Netflix when it recruited programming executive Tara Flynn and marketing executive Marcos Waltenberg.

Netflix claims Fox’s contracts, including those for Flynn and Waltenberg, restrict compensation, movement, and opportunities for competitor. Fox is counterclaiming unfair competition and arguing against any injunction that would prevent Netflix from soliciting, recruiting and inducing Fox employees to leave.

Netflix is also taking the stance that Fox’s practice of re-upping consecutive contracts is against California law. Fox countered the argument Tuesday by saying that NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 14-year career as a Los Angeles Laker also violated the law.

According to Fox, “Netflix’s position reduces to the untenable proposition that two independent contracts must be treated as one under California law merely because they are consecutive — ‘back-to-back,’ in Netflix’s words — even though the second contract (i) was negotiated and signed after the first; (ii) contains terms materially different from the first agreement; (iii) does not incorporate or depend on the terms of the first contract; and (iv) applies to a different time period. On that remarkable theory, no employee in California may lawfully work uninterrupted for a single company for longer than seven years — according to Netflix, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s storied 14-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers was a violation of California law. To state the proposition is to refute it.”

Fox says its contracts are “consecutive — but separate — employment contracts.” In other words, while the contract applies to the same employee, it contains brand new language that reset the seven-year time frame.

“Were Fox to negotiate a successive employment contract only at the precise termination date of the initial agreement, each employee would be (rightly) anxious in the months preceding the expiration of a contract that she would no longer have a contract-guaranteed job come termination date,” Fox added. “And if negotiations took several days or weeks, as arms-length contract negotiations often do, the employee (even if she ultimately chooses to sign a new contract) would lack contract-guaranteed benefits and salary for an indeterminate negotiations period. Netflix cannot justify a legal rule that would require a break in employment every seven years, and thus deprive a significant portion of the California workforce of fundamental elements of job security.”

Abdul-Jabbar’s career example doesn’t stand alone. Contract extensions happen every year in every professional sports league. Legendary careers such as Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant and Derek Jeter see players spend their entire 20-year career with one team without a thought of leaving for another team.

The case could extend to current player contracts as well. The Hollywood Reporter speculated in March that a Netflix victory could allow Anthony Davis to leave New Orleans and sign with another team immediately

Regardless of who comes out on top in the court case, the outcome could change the foundation of athlete contracts. Whether that means a revision of the seven-year law or simply a change to the language of contracts remains to be seen.

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North Carolina Lawmakers Expect Mobile Sports Betting By Football Season

“North Carolina’s neighbors, including Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, have already legalized mobile sports betting.”

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It is already legal to place bets in North Carolina on sporting events. It is just incredibly difficult. Bets can only be made inside of 2 Cherokee casinos in the western part of the state. That could change before football season.

The State Senate, which is politically divided, passed SB 688 last year. If it makes it through the State House, it would become law and North Carolinians could then theoretically place bets online legally.

SB 88 was sponsored by Paul Lowe, a Democrat from Forsyth County. He told WRAL-TV in Raleigh that he is optimistic about what will happen in the House.

“We just want to make sure we have drummed up the votes, and I think we have,” he said. “I feel confident about it.”

North Carolina’s neighbors, including Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, have already legalized mobile sports betting.

Politically, North Carolina is considered a purple state. That is showing up in the effort to legalize mobile wagering. One of the bill’s biggest advocates in the House is Jason Saine, a Republican from Lincoln County.

“We’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll. I’ve not heard any new opposition,” he told WRAL. “I think we have a pretty smooth glide path once we do kind of start rolling into session.”

The state’s Lottery Commission would oversee sports gambling. If the SB 688 is passed, operators would pay $500,000 for a five-year license, which can be renewed for $100,000. They would also pay an 8% tax on adjusted gross revenue. Both of those numbers are low compared to other states.

“Once we pass this bill, there’s some tweaks we’re going to do,” Lowe said. “But right now we’re just trying to get it out of the chute.”

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Lachlan Murdoch: ‘FOX Bet Has Been Disappointing’

“In a recent interview, he told Axios that the app has around 6.5 million users since its launch.”

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FOX is the only network to have a stake in the sports betting industry. The network partnered with FanDuel to launch FOX Bet in 2019. So far, FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch has not been pleased with the results.

In a recent interview, he told Axios that the app has around 6.5 million users since its launch. He called the performance thus far “disappointing.”

Sports betting is a crowded marketplace. It is possible that players are watching games on FOX and seeing advertisements for the betting app, but are choosing to trust their experience to companies like FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, and other companies that are more commonly associated with gambling.

Murdoch believes that a dispute with FanDuel owner Flutter has set FOX Bet back. The two companies have been involved in a standoff over who owns which aspects of FOX Bet and what price FOX is obligated to pay in order to acquire an 18.6% stake in FanDuel. Murdoch says everything “should be resolved by the summer.”

In March, Bloomberg reported that the app is struggling to find new players. FOX Bet is one of the betting partners of the NFL and can advertise its services during games in the fall, but its potential is hindered by only being available to bettors in four states.

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Online Sports Betting Not Happening In Maryland In 2022

“Some state regulators had expressed optimism at one point that online sports betting in Maryland would go live by the end of this year or in time for next year’s Super Bowl.”

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Online sports betting in Maryland appears to have no shot of happening this year due mainly to the fact that the state’s oversight committee on sports wagering is hung up on how to bring women and minority-owned businesses into the fold.

The Maryland Sports Wagering Application Review Committee (SWARC) is currently awaiting results of a disparity study by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.

Some state regulators had expressed optimism at one point that online sports betting in Maryland would go live by the end of this year or in time for next year’s Super Bowl. But given where SWARC is, the whole process is being held up to the point that it’ll likely be later in 2023 before residents can use their phones to place bets.

It’s been just over a year since Governor Larry Hogan signed legislation that legalized sports betting in the state. Since then, five casinos in the state have opened retail sportsbooks.

The casinos have handled more than $132 million in bets since December. $26.9 million in wagers were placed in April alone.

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