Official Betting – A New Frontier for Sports Leagues

Official betting is a new frontier for sports leagues, who seek a role as primary stakeholders in legal US sports gambling and, in the best case scenario, a profit share of all wagers placed. Their preferred means of achieving this is a mandate that requires bookmakers to use official data, which they view as the key to integrity.

The official data debate began just before the Supreme Court overturned PASPA in February 2018, with leagues lobbying for the concept to be incorporated into state sports betting laws. Tennessee and Illinois have thus far enacted sports betting laws that include an official data mandate. The NFL is also pursuing its own version of the policy.

But how much official data is truly worth remains a question that will ultimately be answered by operators and bettors. The American Gaming Association supports private commercial agreements for official data but opposes legislative mandates that would compel sportsbooks to pay for the same data.

In the past, baseball players feared that broad legalized sports betting could lead to attempts at game-fixing — compromising games for gambling purposes. The league is now embracing betting, with MLB and other teams forming partnerships with bookmakers to feature odds and lines. The only caveat: Players must not place bets while on team business, or they risk being permanently banned from baseball. The league even has a sign posted on dugout walls that states, “Any player, club or league employee, or other person, who bets anything… on any game in which he has any duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.” That includes taking part in a bribery scheme to fix a game, as well as accepting a bribe to do so.