Almost every major sports league has spoken out about the new laws that have allowed states to offer sports betting to their players. The NHL, NFL and NBA have all commented on the development but the MLB has stayed quiet – until now. Major League Baseball has finally issued a statement about the newly legalized sports betting market, and it wants a cut of the action.
An Integrity Fee
The MLB has asked for a .25% integrity fee from all baseball wagers made by punters across America. Kenny Gersh, MLB’s executive vice president of gaming, has stated that this “integrity fee” would operate as a type of royalty that gaming companies must pay if they want to make money off of sports. He has made a very strong statement about the issue:
“You guys get the right to make money from sports betting. From a fairness perspective we think, if you are going to designate someone to be able to make money off of what at the end of the day is our sport and our events because if the Yankees weren’t playing the Red Sox last night, you are not betting on the Yankees and the Red Sox … we think we should be involved in that.”
While his argument makes a lot of sense, online casino operators are still reluctant to shell out the cash. In some cases, local lawmakers have even sided with gaming companies. For example, the West Virginia Lottery Commission (WVLC) recently finalized its plans for online sports betting in the state. Almost 20 changes were proposed, one of which that asked for gaming companies to pay an integrity fee to sports leagues. However, when the rules were published, any requirement for this fee was left out.
What Gaming Operators Have to Say
Casinos are not at all keen on the idea of paying an additional fee to sports leagues, on top of their regulatory fees. In some states, it costs millions of dollars for gaming operators to apply for sports betting licenses, and casinos do not want to spend any more on top of that.
Sara Slane, senior vice president of public affairs at the American Gaming Association (AGA), has also made an impassioned statement about the issue of integrity fees. She has stated that gaming operators invest billions of dollars into their products, from which sports leagues will benefit off the back of anyways. As such, she argues, it is not financially viable for casinos to pay out yet another fee, particularly to the sports that will be seeing more business thanks to the newly regulated betting market.
The one thing that both industries can agree on, however, is that they need to work together against offshore gaming companies. The AGA estimates that Americans spend more than $150 billion on at illegal online betting sites, putting themselves at risk and taking valuable revenue away from licensed operators in the country. Leagues and casino operators will have to put aside their differences to stop players from gambling at offshore sites, so they can both benefit from regulated spots betting in America.