The Supreme Court is considering a challenge to a federal ban on legalized gambling, and if the court overturns that ban — and if legalized gambling becomes a widespread, government-sanctioned activity, which is a series of big ifs — the PGA Tour wants to be prepared for the flow of betting interest in golf.
Four states currently permit gambling, with only one, Nevada, permitting online gambling. The Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in Christie v. NCAA, the case that challenges the federal ban on legalized gambling that’s existed since 1992, prior to its July recess. But the Tour isn’t waiting for that to happen to have a voice in how legalized gambling on golf might unfold.
“You have keep in mind that betting is happening right now, with illegal black markets and offshore betting, and we don’t have any exposure to what is happening,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan recently told USA Today. “If it’s legalized and regulated, you get to a point where you can better ensure the integrity of your competitions. You can provide adequate protection for consumers, which doesn’t exist today. There are commercial opportunities for us, which is one of the things we’re here to do, which is to create and maximize playing and financial opportunities for our players. And we believe we’d reach a much broader audience.”
The protections are key: protections for gamblers, protection for the players, and protection for the integrity of the game itself. To that end, the Tour seeks a 1 percent “integrity fee” from betting houses, as well as input on the kinds of wagers that would be accepted in order to cut down on potential corruption. Invested individuals — players, caddies, and others connected to the PGA Tour — would not be permitted to gamble, and the Tour has already invested in technology to track play and monitor suspicious betting activity. (On a basic level: consider how easy it would be for a player to, say, miss a certain specific target score on a round or a hole.)
“The point some people will make is that we are now actively supporting legalized gambling. Well, yes, we are,” Monahan told USA Today. “Because we want to protect the integrity of our competitions, protect the consumer, and there are commercial opportunities. And we have a fan-first mentality. We want to grow and diversify our fan base. There are a lot of things we are doing to address that, and this could be another avenue that contributes to that.”
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.
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