NFL lobbies SEC over blockchain technology

NFL lobbies SEC over blockchain technology

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports | Reuters

The National Football League lobbied the Securities and Exchange Commission over “issues with blockchain technology” from July to December last year, according to disclosure reports.

Records say the lobbying campaign represents the first time the NFL has attempted to influence the government agency that oversees financial securities. The league spent more than $600,000 lobbying both houses of Congress and various government agencies, including the SEC, in the second half of 2021, according to reports.

Beyond the SEC, the NFL has lobbied the White House office, the Justice Department and the Commerce Department. The NFL has targeted these government entities for a wide range of issues, including “federal sports betting regulation,” according to the documents.

The forms do not provide further details about the NFL’s lobbying efforts.

Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are built on something known as blockchain, which acts as a digital ledger that keeps track of all transactions of a particular token. This global online database is accessible to anyone with an internet connection and is maintained by an international network of people who help verify blocks of transactions.

The NFL, led by Commissioner Roger Goodell, is trying to determine if crypto can be an integral part of league business, according to insiders. The NFL currently earns about $10 billion in annual revenue.

At last year’s NFL owners’ meetings in New York, officials told CNBC that crypto-related deals were still being considered.

According to a september ad. Many NFL stars have already to become involved in crypto, including incumbent quarterback Tom Brady, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Rams star receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

The SEC, chaired by Gary Gensler, has been trying to figure out how to regulate various forms of crypto.

For months, Gensler promised to provide a set of formal rules to oversee the crypto market. The SEC chief said these guidelines would be designed to protect investors, but there is currently no explicit proposal.

In the absence of formal ground rules, the Gensler instead weighed on a case-by-case basis, defining what registered securities are and therefore under its jurisdiction. This sometimes includes certain crypto investments and platforms.

The agency, for example, has repeatedly refused to approve an exchange-traded fund based on cash bitcoin due to concerns about investor protection and the potential for fraudulent transactions.

The NFL and SEC did not return requests for comment prior to publication.

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Crypto is expected to be widely announced during Sunday’s Super Bowl game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals. Various cryptocurrency companies are said to have spent millions to promote their products.

The NFL lobbyists listed in the disclosure reports are two Capitol Hill veterans.

Brendon Plack was hired by the league in 2019 to be its senior vice president of public policy and government affairs. Prior to this, he served as Chief of Staff to Senate Majority Whip John Thune, RS.D.

The league’s second executive, Jonathan Nabavi, was hired in 2017 and is currently another chief of the NFL’s government affairs office, who previously worked with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, when the lawmaker was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

– CNBC’s Jabari Young contributed to this report.