The importance of trustworthy and reliable sports data was underlined this week when Indiana became one of the first US states to legislate for land-based and mobile sports betting, with a specific provision that operators must use official data to settle in-play wagers.
This is neither a surprise or a barrier to operators, as it simply restates what is already common and best practice within the global sports betting industry. What it does do is to emphasise the importance of verifiable and trusted data in order to maintain and build the reputation of betting and gaming businesses, particularly in a developing and largely sceptical market like the USA.
The official data mandate is part of Senate Bill 552, which is expected to be copied in many other states as they move towards the legalisation of sports betting in compliance with 2018’s landmark Supreme Court ruling. It is supported by professional leagues and the National Collegiate Sports Association following consultation with legislators.
The bill is also significant because it means that sports betting businesses, or third party companies specialising in data, will be forced to purchase the in-play data from official governing bodies, thereby assuring a new revenue stream and leveraging an asset that will significantly increase in value as the US sports betting market expands.
One possible downside of the legislation, voiced by some lobbyists in Indiana, is that the so-called ‘white market’ for data, involving US-licensed operators in compliance with the official data mandate, may find itself at a disadvantage against the ‘black market’, comprised of offshore operators who are not bound to purchase data through the mandated channels.
On balance, we consider that the peace of mind afforded by officially certified data will outweigh any cost advantages enjoyed by the offshore operators, especially given that the cost of purchasing the official data is only a relatively small percentage of the overheads involved in managing a licensed sports betting operation, online or otherwise.
It’s interesting to note that, while supporting the principle of legalised sports betting, the Casino Association of Indiana is opposed to Bill in its current form, believing that more should be done to protect the interests of the 11 casino locations in the state. With projected gaming revenues under the new regime expected to exceed those of Nevada, however, we think there should be plenty to go around.
The progress of laws like Senate Bill 552 are interesting because they are the first signs of the long-dormant sports betting sector in the United States beginning to stir. Different states will take varying approaches as they seek to balance the Supreme Court ruling with those opposed to the concept of online betting and gaming, led largely by the Evangelical right.
What will eventually emerge by the middle of the next decade is a mixed bag of rules and regulations, varying widely from state to state, that betting companies will need to negotiate. The way data is licensed and distributed will have be a big part of the discussion. Whatever happens, it’s going to be an interesting process.