New Sports Integrity Website Pushes for League Data Control
Should American professional sports leagues have total control over data used in legalized sports betting? That's what the leagues and sports data company Genius Sports believe according to a newly created website. The site is no doubt a response to an impending Supreme Court decision that could strike down PASPA.
USSportsIntegrity.com serves as an expansive, interactive advertisement explaining why it would be important for leagues to have full control of data used in wagering. It endorses existing state legislation that includes these parameters, and pushes for other states to follow suit when attempting to legalize sports betting.
Partnership Benefits Leagues and Data Providers
The site’s listed “integrity partners” are Major League Baseball, recent addition The PGA Tour, Euroleague Basketball, the Barclay’s Premier League, The Football Association, The Scottish Professional Football League and the Scottish Football Association.
The main goal of the partnership is for data from these and other leagues’ sports products to be disseminated to gambling providers through companies like Genius Sports and its main competitor Sportsradar.
Why the Site is Misleading
The main contention critics have with the way the website portrays the importance of official data lies in the evidence presented by the existing illegal sports betting market. While videos and charts depict the black market as dangerous and unprotected, the evidence tells a different story.
An ominous chart on the home page depicts the supposed pitfalls of the illegal market. Never mind that in Nevada, the only state where sports betting is fully legal, official data sources aren’t required making the chart pretty misleading. Below is an image of the site's misleading presentation for reference:
Leagues Pitching a Warranty
The website and pleas of the leagues give the impression of a car salesman trying to sell a prospective buyer on a particular feature or warranty. The salesman pushes it as “essential” and appears to be looking out for the well-being and safety of the consumer, but the bottom line is they’re trying to squeeze more profit out of the situation.
The leagues’ desire for exclusive data rights is the same thing. They postulate the idea that controlling data sources will act as a “warranty” to protect the integrity of their games. What they fail to factor in is actual proof that betting-related infractions against integrity are more than a “once in a blue moon” occurrence.
Have there been scandals in the past involving point shaving and match fixing? Yes. Have sports stars been busted gambling while managing or playing? Yes. Would the inclusion of official league data sources have done anything to stop these crimes from happening? No evidence to suggest that.
Integrity Fees the Underlying Motive
The reason the leagues are pushing so hard for this is to justify levying their one-percent fee that would be imposed on all potential bets made in states where wagering would be legal. Once again in Nevada, the state that the site uses as an example of the legal market, sports leagues don’t get a cut of the profits.
Again, charts like the one below are a nice visual, but when they make wide, general claims about what the illegal market supposedly doesn’t provide, sufficient evidence to back them up which is required. Also, whether the market “provides a fair return to sports rights holders” isn’t even a factor in Nevada, so its inclusion is baffling.
The website tries to paint the modern worldwide sports betting market as a Wild West of lawlessness. It leaves out the fact that it’s a Wild West that for the most part has policed itself for well over a hundred years without causing severe damage to the integrity of really any major sport.
So while the website is visually pleasing, gets its message across well and does its best to convince its audience of the importance of exclusive data and in turn “integrity fees”, it’s important to take it all in with a grain of salt. The smart way to view it is as one side of an issue rather than an end-all-be-all public service announcement.
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