The PGA TOUR has been a key player in the US sports betting scene for quite some time now, and has been a big proponent for having the voices of leagues and athletes heard on a number of key issues, most crucially integrity and protection.
Andy Levinson, Senior Vice President of Tournament Administration at the PGA TOUR, spoke to SBC Magazine about the advantages felt so far by the organisation, what further benefits it expects moving forward and the inaugural Betting on Sports America.
SBC Americas: The roll-out of sports betting has continued apace since May, a situation long backed by the PGA Tour prior to the Supreme Court decision, what advantages would you say have been felt by the PGA Tour since? And what further benefits are expected moving forward?
Andy Levinson: As states consider sports betting legislation, we feel that the voices of the sports leagues and the athletes should be heard. Rather than the discussions focusing solely on tax revenue and eliminating the black market – which are important elements to be considered – we are bringing subjects like integrity and consumer protections to the conversation as well.
SBCA: Integrity is, and will remain to be, such a crucial issue, especially for organisations such as yourself, how will you ensure the high standards set are to remain in place moving forward?
AL: We are speaking directly to the legislators who will shape sports betting legislation at the state level. To effectively protect the integrity of sports competition, there must be transparency between the regulators, the operators and the leagues. Each one of those groups is incentivized to protect integrity.
However, individually self-policing is not the most comprehensive and effective solution. That is why we are advocating that new laws include the sharing of information across operators and regulators.
We also want to make sure that, as new betting markets are being developed, they are not creating unnecessary risk. So we would like to see laws that give the sports the ability to petition regulators to limit certain bet types that pose undue risk.
SBCA: Conversation of federal oversight has resulted in the introduction of a bill to the Department of Justice, what impact would this have? And why do you view this as an important measure?
AL: We feel that a national integrity body that has visibility to all betting activity across all operators and across state lines is the only way to achieve a holistic view. If the operators and regulators are left to self-report irregularities, then the system could be easily exploited. They would inevitably miss patterns of corruption that span across operators or states.
SBCA: You are set to speak at the Inaugural Betting on Sports America conference in New York, why are events such as this important so important for yourself and the PGA Tour?
AL: The legalization of sports betting across the United States could have a significant impact on the PGA TOUR. The sport will have the opportunity to engage fans in new and meaningful ways.
Yet, widespread sports betting will also present substantial risks. That is why we have taken a prominent, vocal position on this issue. It is imperative that the PGA TOUR has a voice in this process in order to protect the interests of our athletes, our sponsors and our fans.
SBCA: What are you most looking forward to regarding the event? And what do you hope to take away?
AL: Compared to the international, regulated markets, the US sports betting market is in its infancy. That is why we embrace opportunities to learn from experts while sharing our concerns.
We have the opportunity in the US to build upon the successes and failures of other sports betting markets to create a gold standard in sports betting regulation and operation. I hope that events such as Betting on Sports America will bring all constituents together to achieve that goal.