Official betting is front and center in the conversation about US sports betting, as leagues seek a role as primary stakeholders and a share of the revenue from state-regulated wagering. They also seek a mechanism to monetize data. The quest for official data mandates has supplanted the pursuit of integrity fees as the leagues’ preferred method of influencing state and federal policy.
While the discussion is complicated by a variety of factors, one of the biggest concerns relates to the utility and reliability of official data. The industry views such mandates as plain bad policy, forcing private operators into commercial agreements with the leagues while granting them what amounts to a monopoly on data. Distributors also view such mandates as anti-competitive, limiting their ability to change pricing based on regulatory requirements.
A handful of states have included official data mandates in their laws, most notably Illinois and Tennessee. The former defines the term as “statistics, results, outcomes, and other data related to a sports event obtained from a governing body of a sport or athletic league, organization, or association whose corporate headquarters are based in the United States or an entity expressly authorized by such governing body to provide such information to licensees.” The latter requires licensed sportsbooks to use official data for Tier 2 bets.
Tier 2 bets are those that do not involve the final score or outcome of a game. In both cases, the law stipulates that sportsbooks must provide the data “on commercially reasonable terms.” This qualifier suggests that regulators will not require leagues to offer their data on unreasonable terms, but the terms themselves are a matter of debate.