[toc]A version of a sports betting bill that surfaced in Indiana would create a rather large “integrity fee” payable to organizations who oversee the sports on which wagering would occur.
The bill would send millions of dollars from gaming operators to the likes of the NFL, NBA and the NCAA. But it also creates a scenario where some other groups could get checks from the state’s casinos.
A “sports governing body” that would receive one percent of all money wagered as defined in the bill is “the organization that prescribes final rules and enforces codes of conduct with respect to a sporting event and the participants in the sporting event.”
Here’s a look at some of them:
The International Olympic Committee
The bill gives the state’s gaming commission latitude over how sports wagering is conducted in the state. That could provide a way to limit wagering on amateur athletic events. (Almost certainly the state won’t allow wagering on things like high school events or Little League.)
But still, amateur athletics are in play somewhat, and that includes the Olympics. Nevada sportsbooks took some wagers on the 2016 games.
So if Indiana casinos take bets on future Olympics, the “sports governing body” that would receive the “integrity fee” would be the International Olympic Committee. It’s doubtful the IOC really needs — or even wants — this money.
Indiana casinos would probably want to take bets on the World Cup. Who would benefit from that? Everyone’s favorite international soccer organization, FIFA.
I’ll advocate for the idea that FIFA doesn’t need to get any money that could be going to American businesses or state coffers.
Augusta National Golf Club, the USGA, the R&A
The PGA Tour oversees competition over the top level of golf in the US. It would probably get the “integrity fee” for most events.
But the major championships have some subtle differences:
- The Masters is an official event for the PGA, the European Tour, and the Japan Golf Tour. But the event is actually put on by the host course, Augusta National Golf Club. There’s a pretty good argument the club gets that “integrity fee.”
- Similarly, the US Open is again an official pro event. But it’s put on by the US Golf Association. Indiana casinos might be writing checks to them.
- One more: The Open Championship. It’s administered by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.
Indiana and integrity fees could make for some strange bedfellows in the world of golf.
If Indiana books wagers on boxing matches, who’s going to get the integrity fees from that?
You could make an argument for the organizations sanctioning the bout, like the World Boxing Organization, the World Boxing Association, etc.. Obviously given some of the historical problems in boxing, some might see a problem with giving them a cut of the action.
You could also make an argument that money would go to the governmental organization overseeing a bout. Most of the biggest fights in the US are staged in Las Vegas, and are fought under the auspices of the Nevada Athletic Commission. Would Indiana casinos be paying them?
The integrity fee causes some unneeded weirdness
The integrity fee, as written, is designed to make the leagues money. It’s also going to be framed as money that can be used to help leagues with integrity matters when it comes to sports gambling.
It could also cause an optics problem. Leagues want to keep their distance from gambling, but they’re going to receive a direct cut of the action via the “integrity fee”? There’s some definite dissonance there. That’s not to mention that for much of their existence, the major US pro sports leagues have said the legalization and regulation of sports wagering actually hurts game integrity.
No matter what, the sudden appearance of “integrity fees” creates a lot of questions, including who may be getting money, whether they want it or not.