Golf and gambling are like peanut butter and jelly: they go well together, perfect compliments for each other.
This week, Golf.com examined why the PGA Tour itself believes that gambling, and in particular live betting, may be big business for golf.
Live betting may fuel growth of golf gambling
If you harken back to the early poker boom years, the names Martin de Knijff and Bill Edler may ring some bells.
Martin won an early WPT tournament (for then a record-setting $2,728,356) and Edler won a 2007 WSOP bracelet and WPT title.
They’ve both been on the business side of sports bookmaking and technology (Edler was listed in the “Molly Bloom” indictments). The two are now with Metric Gaming, and they see a booming future in “Super Live” golf betting.
As de Knijff notes, while Super Live betting, which in golf’s case gets as micro as recalculating odds for a certain golfer based on the distance of each putt, has some absolute degenerate appeal, it can draw in casual fans too, stating they may view it as, “…hey, I’ve got some time to kill, and here’s something I can engage with right away.”
As with most things, the truth is in the middle there. Super Live betting is like crack for degenerates, but also provides casual fans with some edge-of-seat engagement too.
While possibly a somewhat self-serving believe, de Knijff believes that golf betting (and presumably with Super Live action) can capture 10% of the total turnover for U.S. sports betting.
And the PGA Tour is good with this?
The PGA Tour has already announced starting an integrity program and has joined other sports leagues in a push for integrity fees and official data rights.
Plus, you know that the PGA Tour knows that Tiger Woods isn’t going to be in contention every Sunday (where he’s good for a 37% or more ratings bump).
And as we’ve noted on TheLines, there’s some correlation to increased golf ratings and the rise of fantasy golf on DraftKings.
Integrity fees aside, increased ratings equals increased advertising and sponsorship dollars. Anything to juice the ratings, especially as golf has seen its viewership decline the past decade, is good for the bottom line.
You don’t need Metric Gaming to calculate the odds of the PGA Tour supporting live betting. It’s absolutely in their best interest to do so, perhaps more than any other sport right now.
There’s a difference between acceptance and embrace.
We accept the things we cannot control, like your paint-chipped 1982 Toyota SR5 truck that just got crapped on, ironically, by a mourning dove, the impact of which caused the already low-riding POS to collapse entirely and send two wheels rolling down the street like convicts escaping supermax.
But we embrace things that could make life better or easier, like you watching the wheels flee, the truck helplessly laying in the driveway like Leonardo DiCaprio hanging on to the edge of a floating door post-Titanic sinking because “there was no room for him” next to Kate Winslet, and you realizing it might be time for a new car.
When it comes to legalized sports betting, the NCAA has accepted the fate of its literal crappy truck, but the association will not embrace the change.
Last week the NCAA announced it would be “examining the long-term impact” of regulated wagering on college sports by piecing together an “internal team of subject matter experts” that will explore “how best to protect game integrity, monitor betting activity, manage sports data and expand educational efforts.”
It may seem as though the NCAA is embracing change, but in reality, it is the introvert cowering in the corner at a house party when it should be assisting with the keg stand.
‘Subject matter experts’
In a press release last week, the NCAA said it will construct a working group of “subject matter experts” to assess “all areas where legalized sports wagering may impact NCAA members, including officiating, NCAA rules, federal or state legislation, and the use of integrity services.”
“While we certainly respect the Supreme Court’s decision, our position on sports wagering remains,” Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer, said in the release. “With this new landscape, we must evolve and expand our long-standing efforts to protect both the integrity of competitions and the well-being of student-athletes.”
Also quoted in the release was Joni Comstock, senior vice president of championships and alliances:
“Legalized sports gambling across the country is rather new, but the NCAA and its members have committed significant resources over the years to policy, research and education around sports wagering. With student-athlete well-being as the centerpiece, we will continue to build upon these efforts to assist members as they adapt to legalized sports wagering in their states and regions.”
What’s the best way to assist members? How about having actual “subject matter experts” weigh in? You know, people who have been around the industry long enough to remember the last time the NCAA made a decision that was praised by the court of public opinion. (Whenever that was; instituting the shot clock?)
You see, in Las Vegas, maintaining integrity of games is standard. It’s why we don’t open Twitter to see #PointShaving or #WellDangIfYouJustPaidTheAthletesTheyWouldntAcceptBribesJustToFeedThemselves on a daily basis and why light has been shed on the point-shaving scandals that did take place.
We can assume the NCAA is not reaching out to Sin City, or to anyone with actual expertise, as the committee is dubbed by the association as an “internal team.”
Especially considering legalized sports betting will only spike the NCAA’s stock — in popularity and revenue — it would have been more beneficial to the association to embrace the industry rather than skirt around it.
Stepping in the right direction
In a way, perhaps we should applaud the NCAA for making such a decision. Maybe not an over-the-top, “Her-cu-les-Her-cu-les” celebration; more like that patronizing clap as made famous by Captain Picard.
Consider that the NCAA has been stuck in the first stage of the five stages of grief (denial) for years, decades, ever. It was part of the team that took New Jersey to court to maintain the federal ban on sports betting. It battled — albeit briefly — for integrity fees after the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA and opened the door for state-by-state legalized wagering.
Now the NCAA has backed off from its integrity fee position. It cut down its rule that barred states with legalized wagering to host championship events. This committee at least shows the NCAA is accepting this new world. The problem is it should have embraced it like Tommy Boy.