Sports Media and Sports Betting Partnerships
There used to be a hard line between sports media and gambling, with television announcers cheekily referring to “betting” or some other vague reference to over/unders and moneylines. In 2019, though, many broadcasters openly promote betting on their shows, and personalities on a variety of sports shows, such as Inside the NBA on TNT, make picks based on odds information. This has led to natural partnerships between sportsbooks and media companies, as well as sports leagues partnering with sportsbooks for official data to be used in the creation of sportsbook odds.
One of the most prominent examples of this trend is a new partnership between Major League Baseball and Simplebet, which has been designated as the league’s official technology innovation partner to provide real-time player and game data for online sportsbooks. The partnership aims to create a new generation of sports betting products, including single-screen in-play wagering and low latency video streaming.
Sportsbooks are increasingly relying on official data to create their odds and prop bets, which have become popular among bettors. These partnerships provide advantages for both sides, with sportsbooks gaining additional name-brand recognition and official data to use in their offerings, and leagues benefiting from a share of the revenue generated by such wagers.
Lawmakers are also beginning to include official data mandates in state laws on legal sports betting. Tennessee was the first to do so in 2018, three months before PASPA was repealed, and Illinois has a similar provision in its sports betting law. The mandates call for sportsbooks to pay a fee on bets that includes the cost of the data and any integrity fees. This approach is akin to a license fee that casinos must pay to operate, but it gives the leagues control over data flow, which they’re not interested in ceding to private operators.
Adding to the debate over data mandates is the fact that the utility and reliability of official data remain unclear. Moreover, the industry views such mandates as bad policy that essentially force private operators into commercial agreements with the leagues and give one party what amounts to a data monopoly. In the coming years, operators and bettors will help determine how much official data is actually worth, making it more difficult for lawmakers to justify such mandates.
In addition to these mandates, state sports betting laws also often prohibit the sharing of player and game data with entities other than a licensed sportsbook. This is an effort to prevent unauthorized gambling, which can include placing bets with foreign bookmakers and illegally sharing of inside information. For example, Major League Baseball’s Rule 21 bans players, umpires, and other league personnel from seeking, offering, or accepting a bribe to fix a game. People who commit these violations are banned from the game and can have their names removed from the Hall of Fame. The Black Sox Scandal of 1919 is perhaps the most famous example of this type of scandal.