In the coming days, the Supreme Court is expected to announce a ruling that could strike down the federal ban and legalize betting on sporting events in the United States. As multiple states prepare to take advantage of the decision, the PGA is staking its place at the forefront of what the tour hope will be a revenue windfall.
Millions of Americans follow the PGA Tour, and even more tune in when odds favor Tiger Woods for a tournament title. That interest, along with other sports, leads to billions in illegal or offshore wagers on sporting events each year. If sports gambling becomes legalized, America's top professional golf league wants a cut.
"There are commercial opportunities for us, which is one of the things we’re here to do, which is to create and maximize playing and financial opportunities for our players."
Monahan told USA Today that the Tour has laid years of groundwork for possible sports gambling legalization in the U.S. That extends to meetings with regulators and other gambling industry professionals. Levinson explained:
"If the court decides the law is not constitutional, then it will obviously change the landscape of sports in the United States in a significant way."
In addition to input and restrictions on the types of bets bookmakers can offer, The PGA's plans include an "integrity fee" of 1% charged to betting operators, aligning with other pro leagues. That money will help assure the game's integrity, PGA officials say, and allow the tour to better regulate wagering on the sport.
It remains to be seen if the PGA will achieve this plan. As several states advance legalization efforts in preparation, not all are on board for the integrity fee. In order to approve legalized sports gambling, state legislators have presented the financial benefits wagering can bring to their respective jurisdictions - revenue these governments are not necessarily keen on turning over to a sports league.
The PGA is not alone in this endeavor. MLB and the NBA are also pushing for not just legalized wagering but laws in their favor, including the integrity fee. The three leagues have worked together to create a unified front for lobbying efforts, with MLB and the PGA even creating a website in support.
On April 12, the players associations for MLB and the NBA, along with the National Football League and National Hockey Leauge, released a joint statement seeking a role in sports gambling should it become legal. Players would likely seek some cut themselves on the revenue streams and to assure the money doesn't stay locked up within the leagues themselves.
Some other sports leagues have not been as quick to jump in. The NCAA is the defendant in the Supreme Court case that may strike down the federal gambling ban, also known as PASPA. The association continues to oppose any sports gambling efforts, saying it will compromise the sanctity of amateur sports.
The NFL, the most popular and top-grossing professional sports league in the U.S., has yet to embrace legalization publically. Still, league owners were presented with reports on gambling at recent meetings and professional football officials are expected to also pursue revenue options should sports wagering be legalized.
Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour this season, combined with exciting young stars like Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and 2018 Masters Champion Patrick Reed, has increased excitement for fans and gamblers alike. On everything from record-setting performances at Augusta to adjustments to the U.S. Open due to driving distance increases, there's been plenty of interest in golf and its future, a future that the PGA believes could include legalized sports wagering.