Major League Baseball has inked a real-time betting data monitoring deal with UK firm Sport Integrity Monitor (SportIM).
Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but it marks the first US deal for SportIM and the first time a major North American pro sports league has signed with a company to provide real-time monitoring of betting activity. The deal will commence with the start of the 2016 MLB season.
SportIM provides real-time monitoring of both regulated and unregulated betting markets for signs of unusual betting patterns, which could indicate possible efforts by match-fixers to manipulate the outcome of sporting events. It’s up to the individual leagues to act should they suspect that SportIM’s data suggests possible chicanery.
SportIM, a subsidiary of the Genius Sports Group, counts the English Premier League and other major European leagues among its clientele. SportIM opened an office in Washington, DC earlier this year in a bid to bolster ties with US-based leagues.
MLB’s chief legal officer Dan Halem told Bloomberg Business that the league had opted to enlist SportIM’s help out of “an abundance of caution” rather than any specific event. Halem said the cost of hiring SportIM was “well worth it even if we have no reason to believe there’s any gambling going on.”
SportIM CEO Mark Locke told ESPN that his company compared international betting markets to SportIM’s proprietary mathematical models to determine if there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark (or New York). Locke predicted other leagues would look to follow MLB’s lead.
In keeping with the US leagues’ fear of being too closely identified with sports betting operators – outside of their lucrative deals with daily fantasy sports operators – the MLB deal doesn’t include the resale of data to betting firms.
Sports data monitoring firms and their bookmaker partners have proved instrumental in identifying efforts to manipulate betitng markets. It was SportIM rival Sportradar that helped identify the irregular betting patterns that led to Nepalese authorities’ recent decision to charge five footballers with treason for allegedly throwing a series of World Cup qualifiers.