With a stated strategy of elevating engagement and expanding the sport’s audience, the US PGA Tour has revealed it could be on the cusp of introducing sports betting at its events in 2020.
Commissioner Jay Monahan expressed to AFP.com during the Zozo Championship in Japan that the engagement tool could be rolled out as early as next year, underlining its role in attracting new fans to the sport.
Emphasising that engagement is at the heart of the plans, he commented: “When done right, it gives fans the opportunity to engage with your sport over a longer period of time and have more interest in what’s happening across the entire player field.
“It’s legalised in a lot of international markets and we’ve put the right systems in place, both in terms of an integrity programme and monitoring activity.
“As it is becoming legalised by state in the US, you can either participate or not, and we feel smarter to be participating… versus let others control it.”
Addressing the key issue of integrity he continued: “Once you start to participate, you can eliminate negative bets. We’ve done a ton of work to make certain that that’s the position we’re in.
“I think when we come forward, you’ll see that we’ve taken significant steps to address that. We’re going to participate in a thoughtful way and I’m really comfortable with that.”
Just last month the Tour deepened its partnership with IMG Arena to allow for the distribution of its official scoring data to betting operators within North America.
In an interview with InsiderSport earlier this year, IMG Arena’s Vice President Brad Van Wely revealed his belief that in-play betting can be the key to help golf unlock a wealth of engagement opportunities.
Van Wely stated: “For many years golf has widely been recognised as having huge, yet untapped in-play betting potential. Due to the complexity and enormity of the technical and operational challenges associated with collecting sub-second data from remote golf courses located in diverse locations across the globe, the betting opportunity has never been able to stack up against the commercial realities.
“In recent years, huge advancements in technology and a fantastic willingness from sports federations to come on this long and exciting journey has seen this start to become a reality. Golf is absolutely perfect for live betting. You have a tournament that contains thousands of shots, and each one throws up hundreds of immediate betting opportunities which can be quickly created and settled.”
He continued: “This rapid turnover mirrors exactly what we’ve seen in other sport formats popular with live betting. The introduction of distances on shots, for example, are levels of data which have never been seen before. Today, you can’t really get any live data which is accurate because audio visual broadcast is delivered on a delayed basis.
“Our data is delivered in real-time to ultra-low latency which operators can trust will deliver with relevant shot information and they can have the confidence to offer the full range of betting markets akin to other sports.”
Insider Insight: The sport of golf and in-play betting is a marriage made in heaven, the plethora of permutations that are provided by the sport, combined with its long running time mean it boasts mass potential for increased engagement through live betting.
Furthermore, the PGA’s confidence in the sport’s integrity is crucial as it evolves as a betting product. It’s clear that the Tour views collaboration and increased betting partnership as a route to strengthening integrity, rather than a threat to it.