The PGA Tour supports the legalization of sports wagering as outlined by the NBA and Major League Baseball, according to testimony at a hearing about sports betting in Illinois on Tuesday.
The pro golf organization later told Legal Sports Report that it does indeed support legalization and regulation alongside those two leagues, in a statement:
The PGA TOUR supports the regulation of sports betting in a safe and responsible manner. We believe regulation is the most effective way of ensuring integrity in competition, protecting consumers, engaging fans and generating revenue for government, operators and leagues. We are aligned with the NBA and MLB in this area, and we are looking for ways to collaborate with legislators, regulators, operators and others in the industry on regulation that serves the interests of all involved.
What we know about the PGA Tour
NBA Assistant General Counsel Dan Spillane testified that the PGA Tour was at an Illinois Senate Gaming Committee on the issue of sports betting. Here’s what he said, sitting alongside MLB Deputy General Counsel Bryan Seeley:
Although not a part of the NBA family, I just want to note that a representative of the PGA Tour also is in attendance today, and I understand that they also are supportive of the views that Mr. Seeley and I will be sharing with you today.
The PGA Tour has been quiet on the issue of sports betting in recent months and has not actively joined the discussion being led by the NBA and MLB.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has said he has an open mind on sports betting in the past. The tour also recently launched a new integrity program in coordination with sports data company Genius Sports.
The PGA Tour is also confronted with the idea that it will have a tournament — The Greenbrier Classic — held at a venue that could have legal wagering, under a new West Virginia sports betting law.
So, what do they support, exactly?
If the PGA Tour supports legalization of sports betting alongside the two other leagues, we can surmise their position based on what we know of the NBA and MLB positions. Those two leagues have lobbied in a number of states for legislation they support.
- The PGA Tour likely supports getting paid directly by operators via an “integrity fee.”
- Data for wagering should come from sources approved of by the leagues.
- The Tour should have input or control over the types of wagers that sportsbooks can take.
- They want the ability to work directly with sportsbook operators on integrity matters for its sport.
Details from Illinois
The revelation that the PGA Tour was on board for legal sports wagering overshadowed the fact that Illinois was diving headfirst into the conversation. The hearing was an educational hearing for lawmakers in the state; no bills were voted on Tuesday.
Several sports betting bills have been introduced over the first part of 2018 in Illinois, but there had been no other movement in the state. Tuesday represented a change in that.
What did we learn and what happened at the hearing?:
- Lobbyist Steve Brubaker, representing the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association, said that Rep. Lou Lang and others in the state had visited Las Vegas last week in a “fact-finding” mission on sports betting. Lang is the sponsor of one of the five sports betting bills in the state.
- The NBA and MLB continued their lobbying effort. Their model bill is one of the five bills in play in the state. Lawmakers, like in other states, were at times skeptical of the need for Illinois to give leagues what amounts to one percent tax on handle, as the leagues want.
- Much of the discussion between lawmakers and witnesses focused on Illinois attempting to compete with the existing black market, should the state decide to legalize wagering. For the lawmakers in attendance, they got a thorough education on this subject. Many witnesses testified for the need to keep taxes and fees low so that legal sportsbooks have a chance of converting the black market.
Despite the interest in Illinois sports betting, passing a new piece of gaming legislation in an election year might be a tall order. Last year, a bill that would have legalized daily fantasy sports and online gambling passed the Senate before dying in the House.