Proposed Federal Sports Betting Bill Would Require Use of League Data

Proposed Federal Sports Betting Bill Would Require Use of League Data article feature image

Jack Gruber, USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: U.S. Capitol Building

  • A federal sports betting bill will be introduced in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.
  • The biggest takeaway from the proposed legislation is that gaming operators would be required to use official league data.

On Wednesday, Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) will introduce to Congress the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act Of 2018.

The bill addresses a whole lot of the expected stuff — an age restriction (21 years old), various consumer protections and the permitting of online wagering  — but the headline is that in its current form, it would require for licensed operators to only use data from leagues until 2024.

This automatically turns the business of data for leagues, questioned by many about whether it's as valuable as third-party data, into a sector worth of north of $1 billion.

At present, only three North American gaming operators have data/sponsorship deals with the leagues: MGM (NBA, MLB, NHL), FanDuel (NBA) and The Stars Group (NBA).

The NFL — the only one of the four major sports leagues that hasn't done a data deal yet — came out in "strong support" of the federal legislation on Wednesday.

Sara Slane, senior vice president of public affairs for the American Gaming Association, unsurprisingly took the opposite position of the NFL, saying, "This bill is the epitome of a solution in search of a problem, representing an unprecedented and inappropriate expansion of federal involvement in the gaming industry, which is currently one of the most strictly regulated in the country."

A federal bill of this magnitude would mandate that all operators need to work with the leagues — and ostensibly pay them for their data.

Sources tell The Action Network that the few multi-year data deals signed by leagues so far add up to roughly $100 million.

The reality is that the data itself won't be a game-changer until in-play betting expands, making real-time data all the more important.

That’s a product that might not be universal until 2020.

Leagues have been asking for federal oversight over the states to impose universal rules to the new landscape of sports betting. It isn’t so much as to protect anyone. It’s to make more money.

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