The most interesting take from the letters sent to the PA Gaming Control Board was undoubtedly from the Pittsburgh Pirates of Major League Baseball. They want money from sports betting for…well, read it yourself.
What did the Pirates say on sports betting?
We’ll provide some of the text of the Pirates’ letter without context, and then we’ll get into what they are saying:
On a local team level, the Pirates are obviously one the handful of professional sports organizations that will be most directly affected by any new regulations in Pennsylvania. We think it is important to note that any revenue generated through sports wagering is largely dependent on organizations like the Pirates who actually supply the sports wagering product.
Without professional sports there can be no professional sports betting. Providing a professional sports product is a costly endeavor. While our landlord is responsible for capital repair and improvements at PNC Park, the Pirates are responsible for maintenance and operational expenses at PNC Park, which has consistently been named the premier ballpark in the country since its opening in 2001. The capital needs at PNC Park are significant and unfortunately are much higher than the current funds allocated to them by our landlord.
We have been engaged in constant dialogue over the past five to seven years with city, county and state officials about the need allocate a funding source to the capital needs of PNC Park. It stands to reason that a portion of the revenue collected from sports wagering should be allocated to the maintenance and capital upkeep of PNC Park and the other sports-based facilities in Pennsylvania which provide for sports wagering in the first place. We are concerned
that no such provision is included in the current law or the regulation.
You can see the full letter here:Pirates letter
Yes, you’re reading that right
The Pirates claim they need money from sports betting in order to keep up maintenance on their ballpark. If that sounds slightly crazy, you’re not alone.
PNC Park was built with largely public money, as the Pirates contributed just $40 million of the $262 million for the ballpark’s pricetag. At last check, MLB was making $10 billion (with a b) dollars in revenue annually.
Maybe they can pitch in with help for that, seeing as they are currently worth $1.2 billion, instead of asking the state for a transfer of money for a ballpark they profit from. “You can’t have sports betting if the park isn’t maintained” (paraphrasing) is quite the leap of logic.
As a coincidence, heavy rain flooded parts of the park on Wednesday night.
The latest iteration of integrity fees
This is yet another variation on a theme we’ve heard from MLB and the NBA, which are lobbying for a direct cut of sports wagering money. It’s been called:
- An integrity fee, for help with monitoring integrity when it comes to games and sports gambling
- A royalty, as a payment to the leagues for their intellectual property.
- And now apparently a “stadium fee.”
It’s not clear if this new tack came just from the Pirates, or if MLB gave it a green light. But either way, the number of ways sports leagues and teams are hoping to profit from sports betting has grown by one.