PGA Tour Doubling Down on Sports Betting

The PGA Tour is doubling down on its support for legal sports betting. The commissioner of the PGA Tour Jay Monahan spoke at a roundtable during the Sentry Tournament of Champions when the issue came up in discussion.

Monahan believes that legal sports betting is going to garner further interest and more investment into golf. It is somewhat of a U-turn from the PGA’s position in previous years, when it was vehemently opposed to ending the federal ban on sports betting.

Along with the other major sports leagues in the United States, the PGA was pursuing legal action to prevent an end to the ban. However, now that sports betting is legal and becoming more popular across the country, the major sports leagues are looking to cash in.

PGA’s previous stance

Before the May 2018 decision by the Supreme Court to allow legal sports betting, the PGA Tour, along with the NHL, NCAA, NFL and NBAA, actively fought such a move. There were fears that the integrity of these sports would become compromised.

Much legal action was taken, but to no avail. Eight states now offer legal sports betting, with many more set to do so in the near future. New Jersey has been seeing strong results since it began to offer sports betting.

The PGA Tour, along with the MLB and NHL, has been pursuing integrity fees, which would see a slice of every sports bet on one of the league’s events going towards the league. These fees would help to put in place strong monitoring systems to ensure the integrity of the leagues.

However, despite intensive lobbying efforts by the leagues, no state to date has included integrity fees in its final sports betting bill.

New York was the state that was looking likely to implement such a fee. It was debating various sports betting proposals before the ending of the 2018 legislative session. The proposal of a 2% integrity fee was brought down to 0.2%.

However, integrity fees cut into the margins of sports betting operators too much, which is why they are not a popular idea. Instead, the leagues are now turning towards making money by licensing their live data to operators.

PGA Tour embraces sports betting

Many were taken aback by the quick U-turn in the attitudes of the major sports leagues. Most of them have been penning new partnerships and sponsorships since May. The PGA Tour now fully embraces sports betting.

Senior officials at the PGA Tour gave a keynote speech spoke at a leading industry event in September 2018 in relation to sports betting, titled “Betting on Golf: How the PGA Tour is Driving into the Future”.

They spoke in depth on the Tour’s future plans with sports betting, which include developing new relationships and partnerships in the space. Its integrity systems are being taken care of by Genius Sports.

A tailor-made program is in place that will help to ensure the stellar reputation of the Tour remains. All instances of suspicious forms of betting will be closely monitored and there will be education for members of the Tour on potential abuses.

Further PGA Tour moves

The PGA Tour has made other, numerous positive moves into the sports betting space to date.

In Washington DC, for example, the PGA Tour, NBA and MLB are teaming up with sports betting operators to push for legal sports betting. Once on opposing sides, the leagues are now teaming up with MGM Resorts, Draft Kings and FanDuel. It is in both sides’ interest to have legal sports betting in the capital.

The PGA Tour has also entered into a partnership with the British IMG Arena, which will become the official data distributor for sports betting for the PGA Tour. The London-based operator is part of the historic IMG company.

IMG Arena has relationships with more than 250 sportsbooks across the world and offers 24/7 live streaming. It will be using real-time data system ShotLink for the Tour to exclusively its distribute data rights. Sports fans who bet on golf will be using this data. The deal will also be a key part of the integrity program that the Tour has put in place.

What next?

With the PGA Tour Commissioner clearly in favor of investing in sports betting, the future is bright for golf. Younger people will be getting exposure to the sport at a crucial time. The PGA is confident that, by focusing on gaming, fan engagement can increase significantly.

The recent Phil Mickelson vs Tiger Woods betting showdown match shows just some of the ideas that the Tour is looking at. More than $10m was on the line between the two competitors in that head-to-head match. There are likely to be many similar matches in the future, with many different side bets along the way.