Official Betting and the Leagues’ Role in Legal Sports Betting

Official betting has become one of the key fronts in the battle to shape US state sports betting laws. After years of opposition, leagues have emerged as primary stakeholders in legal sports betting, and they are seeking a mechanism to profit from wagering, ideally via a direct share of total handle. If that’s not possible, they support a way to monetize data and the requisite access to it. This quest has supplanted integrity fees as the leagues’ preferred approach to a sports betting golden age.

The NBA, PGA Tour, and other major sports leagues have established real-time data arrangements with Sportradar and Genius Sports, the two main providers of live sports stats. However, the utility of such data remains largely unknown to the public at large. Moreover, mandating its use does not guarantee the integrity lawmakers seek in legal sports betting markets. Instead, it grants a single party what amounts to a monopoly over that data.

Despite the presence of these deals, there are still some states that require sportsbooks to utilize official data. For example, in Illinois, sportsbooks must use official league data for Tier 2 bets, while Indiana requires them to have a source of real-time data that is comparable to official data. These rules will likely be challenged in federal court.

In addition, it is important to note that any person that is involved with a team or league in any capacity cannot place a bet on a game in which they are participating. This rule applies to players, coaches, and front office personnel.