The story goes that Las Vegas was built on the bodies of those that had defied the mafia. How accurate that is cannot be truly ascertained, but there certainly appears to be strong-arm tactics still being favored to get one’s way. As sports gambling begins to take hold in the United States, the controversial “integrity fee” is becoming a focal point and several sports leagues are trying to shake down Nevada’s sportsbooks in order to get them to play nicely.
According to reports circulating around the gambling industry, leagues like the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB) have stepped up their efforts to collect the fee. The NBA, for example, is no longer just lobbying for their piece of the action, but is threatening to cut off the supply of sports gambling data to the sportsbooks—right in the middle of playoff season—if the operations don’t come up with the payments.
According to sportshandle.com, Sportradar is acting as the leagues’ enforcer. The company offers the Betradar platform, which provides the official NBA and MLB data feeds. It has reportedly been telling sportsbooks that they need to pay a “royalty,” which is 0.25% of MLB wagers and an unknown amount for NBA wagers, or risk being cut off.
USBookmaking Director of Sports Book Operations Robert Walker explains, “What I’ve heard, and people are reluctant to go on record, is that the leagues are demanding that to get the official Betradar data feed, you now have to pay a quarter percent of handle. I’ve heard that the leagues, which would be the NBA and MLB, want a fee for in-game wagering data, in addition to the existing fees.”
Walker, who has been in charge of some of the largest sports gambling operations in Nevada, adds, “My sources tell me the demand is coming from the data provider, Betradar. I don’t know if the leagues actually reached out themselves. I think they’re strong arming Betradar, who is coming back and saying this is what we have to get.”
The sports leagues have had their eye on an integrity fee even prior to the U.S. Supreme Court decided that PASPA was unconstitutional. However, all of the leagues, within their existing charters, already have implemented rules and guidelines to protect their leagues and to, supposedly, ensure integrity. Asking for an additional fee for something they’re already (supposed to be) doing shows the true nature of the leagues.