Two TN sports betting operators are challenging the need to use official league data to settle wagers in the state.
The Sports Wagering Advisory Council (SWAC) received a request from Tennessee sports betting operators SuperBook and Betly that official league data from the NFL via Genius Sports is not available to them on “commercially reasonable terms.”
The dispute could lead to a hearing in March or April. However, the SWAC recommended at a meeting this month that the parties resolve the matter themselves before it comes to that.
Industry implications of TN sports betting hearing
The implications of the matter could be widespread, and set a precedent for the industry moving forward.
This is the first time an operator has publicly claimed the terms are not commercially reasonable, and this issue is compounded since the NFL is the only sport with an exclusive data provider.
For the time being, SuperBook and Betly are using non-official league data, as permitted in the statute.
“They’re just getting started, and we appreciate them being here,” SWAC chairman Billy Orgel said. “So if some of the other larger (sportsbooks) have agreed to this, I guess financially it’s not as much of a burden on then, because of their handle, I guess. They’re taking more bets.”
Background on Genius-NFL data deal
In April 2021, the NFL selected Genius Sports as its “exclusive worldwide distributor of real-time official play-by-play statistics, propriety Next Gen Stats (NGS) data, and the league’s official sports betting data feed to media companies and sportsbooks in regulated markets.”
Orgel added: “I implore y’all, and we’re going to set the meeting date, but go back and work this out because this could drag out for a long time.”
What is ‘commercially reasonable?’
Merriam-Webster defines “commercially reasonable” as “fair, done in good faith, and corresponding to commonly accepted commercial practices.” LSR legal analyst John Holden explored the subject when Tennessee was a first frontier in the official league data wars that followed integrity fee discussions.
SWAC tackled the issue during its meeting this week.
“I think our authority in this situation is there’s not much we can say to the NFL,” SWAC councilmember Tom Lee said. “But we can say a great deal to a licensee who says I’d like to use data other than that which the NFL provides because I think the NFL is providing it under commercially unreasonable terms.
“So we can green light other licenses to use other sources of data. And commercially reasonable parties will figure that out.”
SWAC: Figure it out yourselves
Still, the SWAC would prefer the parties can avoid a potentially arduous and impactful hearing.
“We love the NFL. And this is our ‘Super Bowl’ (of the betting year),” Orgel said. “I’d be it’s like 5 or so percent of the take for the year. It’s gonna be huge. Let’s see if we can get a date, and maybe it’ll get worked out in the meantime.
“We hope y’all work it out.”