Leagues Demand Betting Data Access in Virginia

US major sports leagues have insisted that the sports betting sector in Virginia, due to be launched in 2021, should give them free access to betting data.

Three leagues: the MLB, NBA, and PGA Tour produced a joint submission to the consultation on sports betting in the state, a practice they have pursued in other jurisdictions, and their demands were clear: give us access to sports betting data.

With applications for sports betting licenses accepted from the middle of October, interested parties have been given the chance to have their say on the proposals for the new industry in Virginia, and a number of betting companies, including DraftKings and Penn National, have made proposals, but it is the submission of the major sports leagues that are likely to be most contentious.

Free Access

According to the three leagues, the relevant governing bodies of each sport should be entitled to access any betting data they need. The enabling legislation passed to set up the sports betting industry in the state allows leagues to make requests for data, but such requests have to be approved by the Executive Director of the Virginia Lottery.

The leagues are not happy with this arrangement and have proposed taking the Executive Director out of the process altogether:

“If a sports governing body notifies the Director that real-time information sharing for wagers placed on its sporting events is necessary and desirable, a regulated entity shall share the same information with the sports governing body or its designee with respect to wagers on its sporting events. Such information may be provided in anonymized form and may be used by a sports governing body solely for integrity purposes.”

Yet the leagues have also voiced their opposition to the proposed vetting and licensing of sports governing bodies before they allowed to access the data, a measure that they say is too wide-ranging.

Advertising Barriers

In their submissions, meanwhile, the two major gambling operators said that gambling advertising rules should be relaxed. Penn National, the owner of the Barstool Sportsbook brand, criticized the proposal for all gambling advertisements to be approved by regulators. Their position is that such a measure would prevent operators from advertising effectively, particularly in the case of short-term promotions based on one-off events.

DraftKings has also focused on supposed barriers to advertising, pushing for the elimination of a rule that would stop them from including college sports in their betting advertising. According to the rules, betting on events involving Virginia colleges is not permitted, but operators can take bets on college sports outside the state. According to DraftKings, they should be able to advertise markets and offers related to these legal markets.

The two betting operators are also keen to amend the rules around ‘palpable errors’ when betting companies say that a bet can be canceled if it was taken in error. The proposals call for regulators to approve all such bets, but the sportsbooks are pushing for the right to cancel bets if they can be classed as palpable errors under the terms of their own rules.

The proposed rules allow for up to 12 internet betting operators to earn licenses in the state, with the state Lottery given a 90-day deadline to approve licenses. With the licensing window set to close at the end of October, Virginia sports bettors could be able to bet on their favorite sports early in 2021.

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