The NFL’s Move to Forge a Direct Relationship With a Sportsbook

As legal sports betting takes root in more US states, debates over data and integrity fees have become front and center. One of the biggest issues involves official betting, in which sports leagues seek a greater role as primary stakeholders and a way to profit from wagering on their events. Leagues have pushed for official data mandates, which would require operators to source their data directly from the leagues rather than third-party providers. These requirements have supplanted integrity fees as the leagues’ preferred mechanism to extract revenue from US sports betting.

The NFL’s attempt to forge a direct relationship with a sportsbook in Pennsylvania was the first in a string of moves. Its goal is to ensure that the wagering market is built on a foundation of accurate and timely information. The leagues say the data is necessary to protect players and fans and to promote integrity. Ultimately, however, bettors will determine how much that data is worth, and the leagues may find it difficult to impose a price tag on their data that is commercially reasonable.

The Illinois law requires sportsbooks to use official data for Tier 2 bets, which are placed after the final score and outcome of a sporting event. It’s an area where the NFL might have more luck, as it has forged deals with sports data distributors Sportradar and Genius Sports to provide its in-game stats. However, those relationships may prove more difficult in the future as players’ unions resist efforts to collect and monetize biometric data on athletes.