It is not surprising that the MLB and NBA are changing their approach on legalized sports betting, especially since it is now staring them in the face. The 2 leagues have created the integrity fee platform, or basically just a royalty paid to them by states hosting betting options. The problem is, most states won’t go for it. The leagues could force their hand by gaining control of what they consider their intellectual property, which all boils down to one thing – data.
Part of the leagues’ request is that only their date be used when settling bets. Sports analytics are a huge component of the modern game. This includes for broadcasting, training, buying/trading players, betting and much more. Baseball spawned the now popular concept of sabermetrics, which is now used by every franchise in the league. Fantasy sports players use data to pick their teams. By granting their request, the MLB and NBA would essentially have a data monopoly in regard to sports gambling.
This could pose a huge risk to the sports betting platform as we know it. For example, if a league, like the NCAA for example, didn’t want betting lines run on its games it could simply not release the data to the public. This could affect in-game wagers, prop bets and more. If the leagues control the data stream, they control how people place their bets. Sure, you could find sports information outside of official league sources, but think of casual bettors. There will be a high number of new bettors entering the United States online sports betting market if US based sports betting is legalized. Where do you think they will want to get their information? It is a safe bet to think they would want to get it from official league websites and sources.
The NBA and MLB were recently in West Virginia pitching their case for integrity fees and a data monopoly. They claim that their data is more accurate and delivered faster than any other third-party system. They also spoke on the credibility of league officials trained in data monitoring. This may seem empty on the surface, but outsiders would likely agree and put their trust in the official league data mines over some random website.
There is a risk when it comes to online sports betting if states give in to this demand. Bettors may not like the fact they have to depend on official data sources, or they could not like how the betting landscape shifts if certain leagues decide to withhold data. This would lead them to use US friendly legal offshore sportsbooks, which defeats the purpose of what US sports gambling legalization hopes to accomplish. US lawmakers want citizens to stop using offshore sites and bet with US based regulated online sites, thus funneling gambling money back into the economy. Any disruptions to this project could push people away and delay any sort of progress. The leagues have an uphill battle in convincing states to go for this data plan, but it is worth paying attention to.