National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, and the National Hockey League fought against legalized sports gambling for years.
In 2018, they lost.
Though they were uniform in their fight against legal sports betting in the past, the leagues are currently divided on how to cash in on the practice now that it is officially above board.
The NBA, MLB and PGA Tour have been lobbying states to get paid out directly via what’s known among legislators and lobbyists as an “integrity fee.” That fee, according to the leagues, is a reimbursement for costs related to making sure their games are on the up and up.
Those costs include hiring employees to monitor games, betting activity and training players, officials, and others on integrity issues.
But the leagues also feel they are owed compensation because sportsbooks are making money off their product without contributing anything to it.
“I can’t think of another industry where a class of people is able to make hundreds of millions of dollars off someone else’s product, put risk on that party, and pay them nothing,” MLB senior vice president Bryan Seeley told the Associated Press. “Some of the revenue that’s going to be made by the gambling companies needs to be shared.”
Interestingly, even though football is the most popular and gambled upon sport in the country, the NFL has not looked for those type of payments.
The NHL is also going a different route and has been trying to reach direct deals with gambling companies and sportsbooks.
“Instead of seeking legislation at the federal level or even at the state level, our approach has been to work directly with the industry,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We believe that, whether it’s our intellectual property, our data, whether it’s video of our game, we have important assets, and if somebody is going to avail themselves or want to avail themselves of those assets in order to conduct their business, then we’re going to need to have a negotiation.”