Earlier this week, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst wrote about the rising transparency issues with NBA teams, star players, and their injuries.
The injury report issue specifically has been a challenge for the NBA biggest star and second-best player ever, LeBron James.
During the NBA finals, LeBron maybe-probably-could’ve-potentially broke his hand punching a whiteboard after the Cavs’ Game 1 loss. You might remember what preceded it:
This season, James’ groin has been the issue. From the ongoing theories about how severe the injury is (and who really knew what when), LeBron’s groin has been a source of consternation for gamblers. Writes Windhorst:
Gamblers want more transparency when it comes to injuries. Players, like anyone else, have privacy rights. Teams don’t want to allow a competitive disadvantage — and want to limit possible damage to business — and frequently obfuscate. In short, it’s a challenge.
It’s a delicate mix, for sure. The whole situation though could quickly come to a head as the NBA deepens its ties with legal betting operators.
Injury disclosure standards
Despite being late-to-get-on-board-with-gambling, the NFL historically has had the most wink-wink-nod-nod relationship with bettors. Their required injury reporting process is the most stringent of the major American sports league. As the NFL has partnered with Caesars now, stricter reporting policies may be put into place.
If the NBA had a 15-day disabled list like MLB, James surely would’ve been on it this season, clearing some levels of his day-to-day ambiguity. Currently, the NBA only requires teams to list a player as probable, questionable or doubtful by 5 p.m. on game day. Professional gamblers are used to working on those types of tight timelines, but it does make it more difficult for mainstream gamblers to gauge a player’s availability on short notice.
How do integrity fees fit into this?
Professional sports leagues want gambling operators to use their data feeds and charge them a fee for it. These integrity fees are intended to keep the games legit and ensure the quality of data being used.
But what about the integrity of injury information? Isn’t that just as important? And should gambling operators demand more transparency from professional sports leagues regarding player injuries?
The easy answer to that is, “yes.”
If professional sports leagues want to charge integrity fees, great. All day long. The operators though should push back and get standard reporting and standards from all leagues regarding player injuries.
New Jersey is showing the enormous appetite for legal sports betting in the U.S., pulling in $1.2M in handle since June. Degens are always gonna degen, they’re not going anywhere. But the real revenue growth will come from more casual mainstream bettors. Making sure they have the most accurate information is vital.
Expect this topic to gain steam this year.