2019 is going to be a busy year for the Professional Golf Association (PGA). It is completely revamping its schedule and moving the PGA Championship to May. It is also shifting The Players Championship back to March and will offer a new format in order to determine the FedEx Cup champion at the Tour Championship. All of the changes are meant to provide more entertainment and attract more fans, but there could also be another reason. The PGA is ready to embrace sports gambling.
In a report published by the Golf Channel, PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan recently spoke with the press during the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He asserted that the PGA is giving its support to federal legislation that could pave the way for the government to oversee sports gambling. That legislation is pending after Utah Senator Orrin Hatch drafted a bill last year that would give the federal government the ability to outline how the sports betting industry would operate in the country.
Explains Monahan, “Where we are from a gaming standpoint, I’ll break it down to two points. We have for the last couple of years put all the systems in place from an integrity program to monitoring program to our ShotLink technology in place so we can be in a position to participate. The reason we would do it is because we think gaming leads to more engagement.”
Monahan added that he believes golf’s sports betting market will be a “second-, third- or fourth-screen experience,” a reference to fans being able to follow all potential bets and a traditional tournament broadcast. He also admitted that he was drawn to the The Match, held between Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods last November, that saw a number of side bets made between the two golfers before the event, as well as in mid-play.
The commissioner explained to the press, “The one thing that I thought was interesting was at their press conference when Phil challenged [Tiger] to a first-hole birdie wager. To me, I was really interested in that as much as I was anything else. Obviously, it was a match and it was between the two of them, but it was an interesting way to start out the day.” He admitted, however, that he did not place any wagers on those bets.