Since it was ruled out by the Supreme Court in 2018, multiple states are beginning to shift their attitude towards legalizing sports betting. With the PGA Tour now in full swing, fans will now have the opportunity to place in-game bets on the various tournaments taking place.
Commissioner Jay Monohan explained how the betting products are being developed in conjunction with IMG Arena, though it has not yet been established what these will be. All of the information regarding how gambling will be regulated, along with what measures will be in place to prevent match-fixing will be announced by the PGA in the upcoming weeks.
New Gambling Opportunities
NBA and other major league football games have been the vanguard of sports gambling since it was legalized throughout 14 states. As more and more look to do the same and prepare for the key sporting seasons of 2020, the PGA said it will plan to take full advantage of any new gambling opportunities that arise in the meantime.
Officials are also pondering the question as to what the initial betting markets will be, as well as the estimated returns they can expect once it’s all over. This is a point which the PGA has so far not been able to address. Rather than discussing any transparent financial benefits that in-game wagering will bring, Monahan seemed to stick firmly to a tangent that implied “it’s all about engagement.”
Striking While the Iron is Hot
Senior vice president of the PGA, Andy Levinson, was, fortunately, able to emphasize the shared consensus that to not allow betting on the sport would be a wasted opportunity, especially when there are 30,000 shots in golf matches every week. In comparison to soccer or basketball, that’s a huge sum of possibilities for bettors.
“Golf is a tremendous untapped resource for sports bettors. The betting opportunities in a round of golf far exceed any other sports,” said Levison. He also said that he expects there to be a particular focus on 3-par holes, which will include live video coverage to give bettors a better glimpse of real-time action.
Almost 100 brand new ShotLink 2.0 camera devices have been specifically designed to capture the action and measure each shot. These will be able to detect the movements of the ball more precisely than the models used in previous years; this, in turn, will provide more accurate data that gamblers can analyze when placing their bets.
The Fight Against Corruption
In an effort to ensure that the sponsorship regulations also comply with responsible gaming and player welfare, the PGA Tour said it will continue to honor its ‘Integrity Program’ which protects its competitions from external gambling influences. This means that relationships with daily fantasy sports operators and casinos will be permitted, but there will be close monitoring in place to prevent off-shore companies attempting to corrupt games through match-fixing, predetermined contests, and bribes.
“We felt that as a sports organization that places a significant emphasis on integrity, we needed to get involved in the conversation,” Levinson explained. “We’re engaging in the legislative process to make sure that the interest and concerns of sports leagues are being considered when these laws are created, and not just in the interest of the sports betting operator.”
Despite tying up most of the loose ends, the PGA is expected to face some difficult challenges before the season truly kicks off. First and foremost, it will need to find over 1,000 volunteers to man and maintain the ShotLink cameras – not to mention the hundreds more staff required to check wristbands and validate tickets.
“Some people don’t want to sit in a chair and check wristbands,” said Marty Gorsich, CEO of the Farmers Insurance Open on Tory Pines. “It takes a different type of person to do this. It’s a pretty intriguing committee, assuming expectations are within reason.”
In addition to the above, Gorsich is also concerned that family, friends, and fans of players could cause disruption in the stadiums that could get out of control when money is at stake.
“There are positives and potential challenges to it. The positives are energy, interest, and broadening the appeal of the sport. But we also want to maintain our respect for the game. I don’t want to see anything happen that is at the expense of the game of golf,” Gorsich added.
As of March, the majority of sporting events across the globe have been canceled or postponed for 2020 due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. This ban also applies to music events, festivals, religious gatherings, and practically anything else which sees anywhere between 30-100 people in attendance.
At current, no one knows whether the pandemic will grow to be more severe and the tournament could end up being canceled by default. Going by the PGA announcement in mid-March, however, organizers are still looking to go ahead – but without spectators.
Another safety measure the tour has implemented is the prohibition of fans entering the stadiums from April 2. The only people allowed on site will be the players and a few staff. Players have also been asked to refrain from signing autographs and taking any pictures with fans.
While Tour officials have been keeping in contact with the World Health Organization, and even conversed with President Trump over whether to proceed with the season’s schedule, some players, including Victor Lange has already tested positive for the virus. If more player cases arise in the next few weeks, this will also have dramatic implications on the tournaments and whether they go ahead.
The huge impacts the coronavirus has caused in just 2 months is already putting a huge strain on every economy, and it’s likely each one will be dealing with the consequences for years to come. The U.S. is one of the countries that continue to be hit the hardest, following behind China and Italy.