PGA Tour to allow on-site betting in 2020

Business News

The US PGA Tour is ready to roll the dice and unveil gambling at tournaments “from next year” to tap into new audiences, said Commissioner Jay Monahan.

Gaming restrictions are being relaxed across the United States and golf has been preparing for legalised sports betting for years, Monahan said in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of the inaugural Zozo Championship in Japan.

“You’ll start to see product in the market place next year,” he said, with the primary aims to attract new fans and to prolong interest over a tournament day, which can stretch to 12 hours or more.

The $9.75 million Zozo Championship, which began Thursday featuring Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy in a star-studded field, is the middle leg of the Tour’s new Asian swing, worth almost $30 million in prize money.

It began last week in South Korea at the $9.75 million CJ Cup won by Justin Thomas and concludes at the $10.25 million WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai next week.

“It’s all about engagement,” said Monahan of the plan to introduce gambling.

“When done right, it gives fans the opportunity to engage with your sport over a longer period of time and have more interest in what’s happening across the entire player field.”

Monahan is acutely aware that gambling within the sport will need rigorous monitoring, given match-fixing scandals that have dogged sports such as cricket and football.

“It’s legalised in a lot of international markets and we’ve put the right systems in place, both in terms of an integrity programme and monitoring activity,” explained Monahan, who has been in charge of the world’s biggest golf tour since taking over from Tim Finchem in January 2017.

“As it is becoming legalised by state in the US, you can either participate or not, and we feel smarter to be participating… versus let others control it,” he added.

Monahan would not be drawn on exactly what products might be unveiled but said they were being developed in an international partnership with IMG Arena — specialists in sports and the betting industry — with integrity the top priority.

“Once you start to participate, you can eliminate negative bets,” he said. “We’ve done a ton of work to make certain that that’s the position we’re in.

“I think when we come forward, you’ll see that we’ve taken significant steps to address that. We’re going to participate in a thoughtful way and I’m really comfortable with that.”