The National Basketball Association has been trying to get a piece of the sports betting revenue from the operators and it has recently made a much stronger case for its demands. Now, the league has delivered an ultimatum that states that any sports betting operator that has not partnered with it will not be allowed to access any of the league’s official live data for the 2019 NBA Finals as well as other NBA games going forward.
According to a recent ESPN report, Sportradar which is an authorized data distributor for the NBA will shut down all access to the league’s official data two days before the NBA Finals kick off. This grace period is perhaps meant to give the sports betting operators enough time to comply with the new ultimatum or miss out on the opportunity of making some money through live betting.
Sportradar has since written a letter to all of its customers reminding them that “only Authorized Gaming Operators of the NBA are eligible to receive the NBA Official Data Feed” for wagering in states where sports betting is legal. The letter further stated that as from 11:59 p.m. EST on May 28, “all Authorized Data Distributors must cease providing to you NBA Official Data”. To be granted access to the data, the sports betting operators will need to prove that they know the NBA’s secret handshake.
This move is long overdue since the NBA and MLB reportedly began mulling over the move earlier this month. In fact, according to a senior NBA official, all of the United States-based sports betting operators that are yet to secure official partnerships with the leagues have been operating in a “season-long grace period” which is now in very short supply.
“While that period is ending — something distributors and operators have known since the start of the season — we remain committed to securing additional partnerships,” the official said.
In many of the states where sports betting has been legalized, the legislators have been very reluctant to pay sports leagues any fee for using official data. In response, the NBA has opted to shift its focus on the sportsbooks themselves after months of fruitlessly lobbying the lawmakers. Needless to say, the integrity of sporting activities is a very important aspect of the industry but the NBA and MLB, both of whom are the biggest champions of the integrity fee, have not been able to make significant progress due to backlash from legislators.
However, it seems that the NBA may have finally found the sweet spot to drive its agenda. The new plan to have sports betting operators form partnerships and pay a fee in exchange for league data is certainly going to have a lasting impact on the industry especially with regards to how the operators lobby the lawmakers for the legalization of sports betting.