This is the second of a two-part series seeking to answer, “So What the Heck Is ‘Integrity Monitoring’, Anyway?” (Read Part I here.)
Even before the United States Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May, the NBA and Major League Baseball began lobbying state legislatures for funds to finance “integrity monitoring” measures. Part of the leagues’ claim is that expanded legal wagering will create new, greater obligations for sports leagues.
But what exactly is “integrity monitoring,” and how are bookmakers perceiving the leagues’ efforts to garner an “integrity fee?” In the first installment of this series, we spoke to Jennifer Roberts, Associate Director of the International Center for Gaming Regulation, a gaming lawyer and adjunct professor at University of Nevada Las Vegas, who teaches such courses as fundamentals of casino operations management.
Here, to get the behind-the-counter perspective, we spoke to Robert Walker, who heads up sportsbook operations for USBookmaking. Walker’s resume also includes nearly 12 years as the director of race and sportsbook operations for MGM Mirage in Las Vegas, and before that served as the race and sportsbook manager for TheStardust.
Sports betting continues to get a lot of attention in Kentucky. A week after the state legislature’s Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue held a hearing on the topic, and less than a month after a “working group” of state lawmakers had its first meeting, Bloodhorse and Breeder’s Cup are teaming up to sponsor a symposium on sports betting at Keeneland Sales Pavilion on Thursday, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The symposium will be the most diverse of the meetings that have been held so far, and will include lobbyists from the horse world and the professional sports leagues, lawmakers, and industry representatives. Among the speakers scheduled are:
Greg Means, Alpine Group, National Throroughbred Racing Association lobbyist;
Sara Slane, American Gaming Association senior vice president of public affairs;
John Hindman, FanDuel/TVG general counsel for Fan Duel;
Bill Knaulf, Monmouth Park vice president of business operations;
Dan Spillane, NBA senior vice president for league governance and policy;
It’s information overload everywhere, and there’s not time enough to sleep and eat and stay fully apprised of what’s happening on this crazy blue dot of ours (two out of three ain’t bad).
Here’s the weekend Sports Handle item, “Get a Grip,” rounding up top stories in sports betting and gaming, and the world of sports at large. You may have missed them, and they are worth reading. This is meant to be brief, so that’s it.
MGM, PlaySugarHouse.com Debut Mobile App, Online Platform
It’s been a busy week in the virtual world of sports betting, as MGM finally dropped its mobile app in New Jersey. The company soft-launched the app for Android users on Wednesday with the intention of making it more widely available in the coming weeks. The playMGM NJ Sports app was released through the MGM-owned Borgata in Atlantic City will give company to the DraftKings Sportsbook, which had fully launched on Aug. 6 and remained the only online sports betting app available in New Jersey. The current version of the app offers tons of betting opportunities, including straight bets, futures, props, and parlays available. The professional (NFL) and college football menus are queued up with a wide variety of different player and team props, futures and totals. The only thing that appears to be missing the chance for in-play wagering.
PlaySugarHouse.com, owned by Rush Street Gaming, followed a day later when it launched an online betting platform, also for New Jersey users. What’s special about this one is that it integrates the new sports wagering opportunity for state residents with its already operating online casino. Rush Street’s platform is the third to be introduced in the Garden State this summer, with plenty more sure to come.
ICMY SportsHandle Edition
Illinois Holds First Gaming Hearing:Lawmakers are starting to lay the groundwork for sports betting in Illinois and on Wednesday, heard from gaming stakeholders ahead of an October meeting that will feature sports betting as one of the key topics.
Is the Time Right?: According to a study presented to Kentucky’s working group on sports betting, despite struggles in the past, now may well be the time to legalize sports betting.
Bookies in the Legalized Sports Betting Market:Sports betting and other forms of illegal gambling used to take up lots of space in the justice system, but according to former Brooklyn and Bronx Criminal Courts judge John Wilson, not so much anymore.
Indiana lawmakers were unable to legalize sports betting during the legislative session earlier this year, but that doesn’t mean the state is doing nothing since the session ended.
According to a report from The Statehouse File, the Indiana Gaming Commission in July signed a two-year deal with the market analysis firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming LLC. Indiana regulators learned of the company through their counterparts in West Virginia, which passed a bill legalizing sports wagering in March.
Indiana will pay Eilers & Krejcik nearly $75,000, according to the report, to conduct multiple studies related to sports wagering with the goal of providing legislators with financial and policy information needed to make any proposed legislation meaningful. Though the contract is for 24 months, though the company expects to provide some data to lawmakers as early as this fall.
Indiana Was a First Mover in Terms of Pushing Sports Betting Legislation, But Didn’t Get a Bill Passed Before the 2018 Session Ended.
Indiana was among the first states to start to begin exploring sports betting during the 2018 legislative session. In fact, Representative Alan Morrison (R-District 42) announced in January that he would introduce sports betting legislation during the session. He did so, as did senator Jon Ford, but both bills died in committee.
Of note is that Morrison’s bill, which was introduced in early January, included the “integrity fee” that the major professional leagues favor. Indiana was the first state to use such language and the idea of paying the pro leagues a cut of sports betting revenue has evolved into a contentious issue across the U.S.
The six states that have either legalized or rolled out sports betting (several states did not need new laws passed) have declined to pay the leagues. In addition, several states lambasted the pro leagues and the idea of the integrity fee, or royalty, as the leagues are now referring to it, earlier this year. So far, the only state in which lawmakers appear to be actively considering a royalty is New York.
Indiana is home to about 14 casinos — mostly riverboats with land-based properties plus one Native American casino in South Bend. Indiana’s legislature goes back in session Jan. 14.
In what National Basketball Association commissioner Adam Silver and MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren hailed as a historic partnership, the professional sports league and major international gaming and hospitality company have struck an agreement on sports betting data and intellectual property, the first relationship of its kind.
The pair made the announcement at a press conference at the St. Regis New York Hotel in New York City on Tuesday. The deal will permit MGM and its properties offering sports betting to use official NBA league data as well as NBA logos and marks in conjunction with its sports betting products.
This agreement makes MGM the “official gaming partner” of the NBA, but this deal is not exclusive to MGM. In fact, eliciting a laugh from Murren and the audience, Silver invited more deals of this kind with other gaming entities.
NBA Sports Betting Deal With MGM Ushers In ‘A Whole New World For Us’ and Positions MGM to ‘Win’ as Number of US Sports Betting States Expected to Grow
It’s a 3-year-deal, of which the financials were not disclosed, will allow both sides to test the waters in what Silver called “a whole new world for us.”
“NBA’s three-year deal does not include rights to allow MGM to stream live NBA games on a mobile app that allows gamblers to bet on that app at the same time,” reported ESPN’s Darren Rovell. “That, many believe, is where the big money is.”
Silver indicated that the NBA recognized that their aggressive lobbying campaign in at least two dozen states with respect to sports betting legislation was an “uphill battle.” The league saw that states were resisting their preferred legislation, and further that a federal framework was not in the works.
But Silver indicated that the state-level battle is one that’s far from over as so far only six states have legalized (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Mississippi, West Virginia) or expanded their sports wagering offerings (Delaware). But so far, no state has passed legislation mandating the use official league data, or requiring operators or state lotteries to pay the league an “integrity fee” or royalty in any amount. New York came close.
In response to a question about the origin of the official league data — used to grade wagers — from Sportradar, Silver said that their Sportradar deal does not govern its data in the U.S. With respect to data for MGM and other potential partners, he said “The official data feed will come directly from the leagues operation center, or from a partner yet to be named by the NBA.”
Big Week for MGM.
Murren was pleased to have the MGM become the first to test these waters. MGM has now set the market rate for the cost of doing business of this kind directly with a professional sports league.
It’s been quite a week in MGM announcements, with news of its joint venture with the announced formation on Monday of a sports betting and online gaming joint venture with British betting group GVC Holdings Plc, owner of the Coral, Ladbrokes and Sportingbet brands.
Further on Monday, MGM and Boyd Gaming announced a new partnership on Monday that will expand MGM’s portfolio into states likely to offer sports betting and/or online gaming in the coming months or years. The partnership has an eye toward jurisdictions where either Boyd Gaming or MGM operates physical casino resorts and should be able to obtain licenses to operate online.
“We needeto have great brands, which we have at MGM. We needed the right market access in the U.S. We have that. … we also need the best in-game betting experience which we get with GVC, and now we have tremendous data,” Murren summed it up.
He remarked that all of these pieces has MGM primed to “win” in the expanding U.S. sports betting market.
There was some news for New Jersey sportes betting tucked at the end of the presser, too. Said Murren: “At the end of this week we’ll be taking mobile bets from The Borgata via the Play MGM app.”
Don’t be a Square: Subscribe to our once-a-week newsletter for the latest sports betting news and insights
Get the latest content first.
We respect your privacy.
Don’t be a Square: Subscribe to our once-a-week newsletter for the latest sports betting news and insights
The post Players’ Claim of ‘Serious Consequences’ of Sports Betting Is A Hail Mary appeared first on SportsHandle.
Professional athletes are hungry for competition and compensation, and they’re now seeing the same thing as leagues, owners and gaming businesses. With an expansion of legal sports wagering taking root in the U.S., players want a nice piece of the sports betting pie.
But same as the leagues that employ them, players’ unions for the major professional sports organizations are seeking some cut of the revenue based on a faulty, self-serving premise. The leagues, of course, are asking for a direct cut of sports betting revenue based on a claim in two dozen states for a poorly-received request for a sports betting “integrity fee” or “royalty.” Now, the players’ associations are taking the position that legal sports wagering poses a pernicious threat to athletes.
As reported by ESPN’s David Purdum, Casey Schwab, Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs for the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), said last week of expanded legal wagering: “There are serious consequences, particularly for the athletes. Because of those consequences, the athlete’s voice must be heard, particularly as we contemplate sports betting in the country.”
With The Number of Legal Sports Betting States Set to Increase, Now All of a Sudden Players’ Unions Change Claim ‘Serious Consequences’ Afoot.
Per Purdum, Schwab said the unions are concerned foremost with player privacy, data and their public perception — moreso than sports betting monetization opportunities. But now after years of being public figures, of having injury reports an accepted reality and of having reporters in their faces, for the players associations to now get amped up is ridiculous. When it comes down to it, nothing will be changing for the players or players’ unions in a world with expanded legal sports betting.
Wagering on games and specific player events has long existed in the form illegalwagering (a humongous market that will continue to exist), regular fantasy sports and daily fantasy sports. With a legal sports wagering expansion, it’s business as usual for the players. They will not be required to do anything differently. They want a piece of the pie — and naturally they would, business is business — but their argument is a Hail Mary and Aaron Rodgers isn’t at quarterback.
The argument is an extension of an April joint statement put out on behalf of all four of the major pro sports leagues. They wrote:
“The time has come to address not just who profits from sports gambling, but also the costs. Our unions have been discussing the potential impact of legalized gambling on players’ privacy and publicity rights, the integrity of our games and the volatility on our businesses.”
The unions are making an obvious emotional appeal.
The above “consequences” position boils down to the claim that fantasy sports and bettors already “dehumanize” athletes on social media after games, per NFLPA president Eric Winston, and that expanded legal sports wagering will exacerbate that.
Meanwhile, the widely accepted (and celebrated) reality is that fantasy sports and sports betting has helped explode the popularity of NFL games. There is empirical evidence on this front, and as a consequence, the engagement has helped generate incredible NFL TV contracts that increase every cycle (ditto for the other major U.S. pro leagues).
Numerous players have embraced fantasy sports and encouraged fantasy players to draft them, while some appear on fantasy-focused shows. Former Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew and Chargers tight end Antonio Gates guest starred on FX’s “The League.”
Jones-Drew now co-hosts “NFL Fantasy Live.” And of course, the NFL provides its own platform for fantasy football and a plethora of fantasy sport content. If players truly have a problem with player privacy, data and their public perception, they should take it up with The Shield.
On the legal front, the notion that “publicity rights” would prohibit certain wagers or data usage on has been litigated in federal court in a fantasy sports context. The case reached the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which found that information from sports contests is part of the public domain, and therefore that MLB team owners and the players’ union could not bar names and stats from being used commercially.
In the sports betting context, unions will try to distinguish wagers such “proposition bets” — for example the number of receptions Antonio Brown would have in a certain game. It’s a losing argument that will provide as much leverage as a single palm against a sled stacked high with 45-pound plates.
What about injury reporting and privacy? First of all, they were created for people wagering on sports. The league freely provides the information and if that’s now objectionable, unions can try to negotiate it away with the leagues. Nevada bettors, bettors in Europe and those wagering in other “offshore” jurisdictions where wagering is legal have been relying on this information for a long time. Why the sudden claims of privacy issues?
The availability of such information is part of being a public figure and a professional athlete. Injury reports are crucial information for fantasy sports, sports wagering, and likewise people who don’t give a damn about either. Before season-ticketing-holding Joe Fan shows up at Heinz Field, he wants to know if Ben Roethlisberger is going to be suiting up.
Players for a long time have accepted that certain health information, even the kind they probably would prefer keep private, is part of the deal. In the past, leagues have disclosed everything from weird injuries (it’s always MLB players, such as the Clint Barmes deer meat incident) to mental illnesses to quasi-health matters like domestic disputes.
Players have long gotten booed off the field for bad performances because they’re just bad performances — not because they failed to go “over” on a reception total or otherwise doom a wager. Everyone is subject from criticism at work. Getting booed is part of the game.
Ultimately, the Claim of “Serious Consequences” Is About Money.
“There needs to be a way for those of us, the players and the owners who create this game, to enjoy some of that revenue,” said NBA Players’ Association executive director Michele Roberts in an interview with ESPN’s Dan Le Batard in March. “We haven’t yet aligned ourselves to the extent we are, but I certainly don’t disagree that’s a conversation worth pursuing.”
And back to the NFL, said Schwab: “I look at the landscape for commercial opportunities, and I don’t see a pot of gold.”
[Also See: Pittsburgh Pirates Take Sports Betting ‘Integrity Fee’ to Whole New Level]
This conversation about sports betting needs to be had between the leagues and players during the next negotiations of their collective bargaining agreements. The NFL CBA discussion is expected already to be a contentious round of talks with a work stoppage regarded as likely.
The leagues may not find an overflowing pot of sports betting gold, but they are in the process of selling “official data” — player performance data, that is — to sports betting operators. There will be more partnerships and sponsorships to be had, TV contracts will become more valuable and the pie will invariably grow, and player salaries along with it.