Who Owns and Controls Sports Betting Data?

As legal sports betting grows across the US, questions are emerging about who owns and controls official data. That topic has become a central battlefront in sportsbook partnerships, as leagues seek profit from legal gambling. In the longer term, they hope to monetize their data via a direct cut of sports betting handle.

Amid the ongoing debate, a new set of terms has emerged under the banner of “official betting.” The phrase describes a mandatory agreement between the data providers and the operators. Specifically, the players’ association and other labor groups insist that a fee be included in the legal sports betting market, one that would require all operators to sign on with the leagues for the right to offer their data.

The leagues’ desire for such a mandate has replaced the integrity fee as their preferred method to shape US state sports betting policy. But that doesn’t mean the leagues have won a victory.

Despite the leagues’ lobbying, no state has passed a law with official data requirements. In fact, two states have mandated the use of official data, but the qualifier “commercially reasonable” appears in the laws and provides an escape hatch for operators that want to avoid the costs. Interestingly, Sportradar, the leading distributor of official league data, has not changed pricing in response to such mandates.

In the meantime, sportsbooks have been forming in a growing number of states. New York is live and collecting bets, and Vermont launched in January with a competitive bid process that resulted in high tax rates. Several retail outlets have opened in Massachusetts, and the state’s four Native American tribes are offering online sports betting via their casinos thanks to gaming compacts.