Sports Betting Partnerships – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

official betting

Sports betting took a big leap forward in the US this year when the Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law that barred most states from legalizing the activity. Now, fans in more than half the country can place wagers on everything from which player will score first to whether a team will win or lose. But there are a lot of moving parts to the business, including the need for robust data, the rise of live betting and the risk of match-fixing.

Official data is one of those moving pieces, and it’s an area where the leagues are pushing for more control. In June, an NFL executive appeared before state lawmakers in Pennsylvania to push for a requirement that operators use official data when grading in-play bets. The American Gaming Association immediately voiced opposition.

The leagues’ pitch centers on what they describe as an integrity fee, a cut of the top of sports betting handle that they want to collect via their distribution partner Sportradar. The idea is to deter corruption, and in the case of major sports like baseball, it’s also aimed at preventing the sort of illegal activities that led to the 1919 Black Sox Scandal.

There are, however, significant pitfalls in the idea. For one, it’s an expensive proposition. Sources suggest that the data the leagues are seeking from Sportradar runs in the range of 0.25% of all bets placed on the sport. That’s an astronomical sum when considering the scale of US betting, and it is likely to cause some players to avoid certain wagers.

Another problem is that the use of official data violates players’ contracts. The NFL, MLB and NBA require all players to acknowledge gambling rules in their contracts. In addition, athletes cannot bet on events in any WBSC competition in which they are participating. That includes any event in which they are involved with a national baseball or softball team, as well as any Olympic event.

The reason you don’t hear much talk about betting partnerships is that the space is very cutthroat and reputation based. Betting groups that openly grovel for accounts are seen as lesser people, and most betting partnerships prefer to maintain relationships with as many accounts as possible and promote their services through word of mouth. It’s a way to keep their edge in an industry that’s highly competitive and extremely fast-moving.