How betting operators and US leagues can unite to profit from official sports data

How betting operators and US leagues can unite to profit from official sports data

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 Posted by Joseph Streeter
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Data can undoubtedly play a crucial role in ensuring integrity in US sports

With PASPA now dead and buried and the federal government out of the running, the next round in the fight between the operators and the US sports leagues is being contested over the future of sports betting legislation at a state level.

The simmering tensions between the leagues and the industry have been reignited by the MLB, NBA and PGA TOUR’s demand for an integrity fee, of one percent of turnover, and an official data mandate that will require operators to take only league sanctioned data to power their sportsbooks.

Critics argue that the integrity fee is simply a wolf in sheep’s clothing that would cripple the sportsbook’s profitability and would not act as a silver bullet when it comes to protecting US sports integrity.

Although the leagues have struggled to garner support for the integrity fee, they have argued more successfully that the use of official sports data, approved and validated by the leagues, would help protect consumers, and promote transparency. This increased transparency would enhance sports integrity by allowing every single bet and piece of sporting action to be monitored via a central hub.

On 14th May 2018, The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) signed a new 10-year partnership with Genius Sports, a collaboration which poses a new question. While the deal did not include any provisions for integrity services and betting rights, just how crucial a role could enhanced data collection and management be in ensuring integrity is maintained in US sports, and subsequently how vital it could be in bridging the gap between the operators and US leagues?

When asked whether the use of data could help improve the relationship between American leagues and betting operators, Tom Russell, Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs at Genius Sports, emphasised to “Cooperation between sports governing bodies and licensed sportsbooks is vital to the success and sustainability of the US sports betting market.

“In regulated betting markets around the world, licensed sportsbooks have been using official data, issued directly from the sports, for a number of years. This is because official data is the fastest, most accurate and reliable data that enables sportsbooks to create the best betting products

“So as long as state licensing requirements aren’t unnecessarily restrictive on the sportsbooks, the use of official data is a common currency that encourages regular cooperation and communication between the two key stakeholders.”

Additionally, the PGA also emphasised the importance of data, as sports betting looks to become incorporated into the fibre of US sports, with golf’s governing body also in a strong partnership with Genius Sports, one that saw it implement a new integrity programme at the beginning of this year.

Totally Gaming says: Data and its effective use can play a key role in increasing integrity and fighting against match fixing in the US; the English Premier League has proved this. That being said, data alone can only go so far when it comes to increasing integrity. In order for data to be maximised it requires positive cooperation between leagues, clubs and betting operators. Something that I anticipate will arrive sooner rather than later in a post-PASPA USA.

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