Statement on Supreme Court Sports Betting Case – Genius Sports CEO Mark Locke

Sports Betting

Statement from Mark Locke, CEO of Genius Sports Group, on today’s supreme court ruling with regard to sports gambling in america.

“By arguing that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) – the federal law currently restricting the proliferation of sports betting outside the state of Nevada – is unconstitutional, the outcome of New Jersey’s case could open the door to other states seeking to approve sports betting. That would legalize what is now a massive underground sports betting market – by some estimates, more than $200 billion was wagered illegally on sports last year in America.

The New Jersey case has seen the spotlight return to the historic argument as to whether the proliferation of legal sports wagering increases the threat of match fixing. By choosing to ignore the existing, enormous black market in the United States, proponents of the existing ban believe that any relaxation in the current laws would lead to a rise in betting related criminality and increased threats to the integrity of major sports.

However, since the passage of PASPA in 1992, the world of sports betting has changed beyond recognition. The proliferation of the internet and growing value of sports data have transformed wagering into a global industry where legal, tightly regulated markets such as the United Kingdom offer greater transparency and accountability than black markets such as China and the US. NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver has argued “that sports betting should be brought out of the

underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated”.

With a Supreme Court decision expected by early June 2018, the time is now for the US sports leagues and other participants to establish how safeguarding sports integrity is fundamental to establishing a successful regulatory environment. Furthermore, from a commercial perspective, the legalization of sports betting presents the US leagues with an opportunity to develop new revenue streams, drive fan engagement whilst underpinning the integrity of their events.

The love of sports is enshrined in American culture; however, the leagues seemingly unstoppable commercial success is wholly dependent on the trust of their fans and guaranteed integrity of their events. Fortunately, technology has advanced to the point where a legal sports betting environment, properly regulated and monitored, is the best form of protection for the game.

Amidst greater media scrutiny than ever, sports that fail to proactively safeguard the fairness of their competitions can face devastating consequences. Recognizing this, in recent years a number of leagues have taken proactive steps to engage technology that can protect the integrity of their games and help ensure their futures. For example, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association and the PGA Tour have all partnered with specialist sports integrity firms in commendably recognizing that wagering on their sports exists and prudent measures must be taken.

Progress has been made, but while the primary responsibility for combatting betting-related corruption fundamentally lies with the sports themselves, long-term protection requires the active cooperation of other key stakeholders including sportsbooks, law enforcement, government and regulators. And for the millions of fans who like to bet on games – they must be able to trust a sport’s integrity.

Whether by a decision of the Supreme Court, or a repeal of PASPA by Congress – or both – a legal, regulated sports betting market is seemingly inevitable. It is therefore vital that American sports leagues advocate additional measures that will help safeguard their sporting events which include:

Requirement that any state that authorizes sports betting mandate integrity services.

Integrity technology is being deployed all over the world by governments, gaming commissions, betting operators, sports leagues and others who want to assure that corruption is prevented. Any federal repeal of PASPA that frees states to permit sports betting should include a requirement that the state authorization provide for integrity services to be part of the regulatory solution.

Mandatory use of official sports data controlled by the sports.

Data and statistics have become one of sports’ most valuable assets, yet many US sports do not fully understand the value of them, leaving a void often filled by “unofficial” or “unlicensed” third party data collectors. By mandating the use of “official” or “licensed” sports data for licensed betting operators the leagues can assure the consistency and reliability of the data and benefit from associated data licensing revenues. Regulated betting partners will also benefit from being provided with the fastest, most accurate data available, providing fans and bettors with the best possible product. Furthermore, the sports will enjoy a greater level of transparency when monitoring for potentially suspicious betting activity with oversight of their own data.

Complete transparency of wagering levels and customer activity.

Vital to a regulated market’s success will be the introduction of stringent “Know Your Customer” (KYC) measures. In turn, these must be backed up and monitored by increasingly sophisticated online identification tools, anti-money laundering protocols and responsible gambling policies. KYC is pivotal in preventing underage gambling. As in the UK, wagering operators should be obliged, on demand, to share information on wagering activity and player account details to law enforcement.

At the moment in the US no such protections exist.

A central reporting hub that is integrated into all sports, licensed operators and the IRS Information-sharing agreements between operators, regulators and sports authorities are crucial when it comes to identifying match-fixing threats. However, we believe US regulators and sports have an opportunity to go one step further and require all officially sanctioned wagers placed with licensed US operators to pass through a centralized technology hub. This would allow all wagers to be time stamped and scrutinized on a second by second basis, with any anomalies identified through real-time monitoring of betting patterns.

Full Disclosure and Transparency.

In keeping with Director Rebuck’s of New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement recommendations, it is crucial that sports betting companies and their supply chain seeking to enter the US market are fully vetted and required to disclose their entire corporate structure, shareholders and past actions to determine their suitability for licensure in the states that regulate sports betting.

This is a watershed moment – an opportunity to bring an illegal market, which millions of Americans are involved in, into the sunlight in a responsible, thoughtful way. It will be good for the economy and provide for proper monitoring, licensing, taxing and, most importantly, for allowing fans to do what they enjoy safely and lawfully. We look forward to a vigorous debate on the terms and safeguards for establishing this industry, and to the successful opening of this market in the US.”