The legal and regulatory landscape for sports betting is a rapidly shifting one. While state legislatures and regulators have been grappling with sports betting laws for years, the 2022 Supreme Court decision to strike down PASPA opened up a wide range of opportunities in new markets. In particular, states have begun to regulate sports betting on collegiate teams, creating an entirely new category of wager. This has made the conversation around official betting an important issue for both leagues and operators.
Official data is a key component of these bets. The legal definition of “official data” requires that a sportsbook use only data provided by the governing body for a specific sport, which has been approved as such by a state or federal licensing authority. This language can create problems in some cases, since the governing bodies of most US sports are private organizations and do not provide data to the public. It also places the burden of ensuring that data is available for Tier 2 bets on games and events that do not involve the final score or outcome in the hands of sportsbooks, rather than the governing bodies themselves.
Regardless of the legal landscape, leagues are still pushing for official data mandates, arguing that it is vital to protect their interests. In some cases, the leagues have even used their power to pressure lawmakers into supporting their position. For example, a proposed compromise in West Virginia would trade an integrity fee for official data, but was ultimately rejected by lawmakers.
In the current environment, it is likely that a majority of states will continue to reject this kind of data mandate. However, some states have chosen to define the concept of official data more narrowly, such as requiring it only for live wagers on games and events. This allows for a more balanced approach that gives the leagues some control but leaves many bettors with less restrictive options.
Sportsbooks in Massachusetts and Tennessee, for example, have been able to offer Tier 2 bets on games without the required official data. This is in line with a compromise that lawmakers in both Illinois and Tennessee adopted after initially supporting league lobbyists seeking to limit data flow.
The American Gaming Association supports private commercial agreements for official data but opposes legislative mandates that require its use. Ultimately, it is the bettors who will dictate how much official data is worth and how the market foresees that value evolving. Currently, the major leagues are asking for a premium of roughly 0.25% of all bets placed on their respective games via distributor Sportradar. Sources within the industry indicate that such a fee is commercially unreasonable.