PGA Tour wants ‘piece of the action’ if Ky. approves sports gambling

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) -  A representative of one professional sports governing body indicated to a legislative committee his group wants “a piece of the action,” if sports gambling is approved in Kentucky.


David Miller, vice president and assistant general counsel for the PGA Tour, testified before the Interim Joint Committee on Licensing, Occupations and Administrative Regulations about data integrity in sports wagering.


The Louisville native told the panel that, as a Kentuckian, he understands the passion over their sports teams.

“I think sports betting can provide Kentuckians another way to enjoy the games they love, while also generating meaningful revenue for the state,” he said. “At the same time, betting does create risks for sports and consumers, and is something that should be considered carefully.”


He asked lawmakers to consider five principles when crafting any legislation.


First and foremost, any bill must protect the integrity of sports, he said.  “We essentially have nothing if our games, our events, aren’t showing the best efforts of our players.”


He said sports betting can put that at risk.  “Sports betting created huge opportunities for leagues, but there are massive risks.  You have one event of match-fixing or betting corruption that can devastate a league for generations.”


Miller asked that information be shared with leagues for integrity monitoring, assisting with league investigations, and giving leagues some voice in the type of bets that are offered.


A second principle is betting operators should use official data verified and supplied by the league because it gives consumers confidence. 

A third point, Miller said, is allowing for mobile betting.  “In this digital age, people expect to do everything on their phone,” he said.  “We estimate that it would double revenues to the state of Kentucky.”


Fourth is to beware the addictive nature of gambling.  “We want betting to be fun and recreational and not to be harmful, so we would support strong consumer protection in legislation,” he said.  “It would require operators to have self-exclusion programs, to advertise responsibly, promote responsible betting.  You have to be looking after our fans, the consumers.”  


Miller’s fifth point: “We are asking for a royalty of 0.25% of the bets that be paid by the operators to the leagues.  So for a $100 bet, 25 cents would go to the leagues.”


He acknowledges it is a controversial request. “But we really do believe that it’s reasonable and good, fair policy.  This entire industry, which is worth billions of dollars, is based entirely on games that we create, and without the leagues providing the games, there would be no bets to offer.”


Miller estimates Kentucky could raise $9.4 million per year by sports gambling and more than $18 million if mobile betting is part of that, according to the American Gaming Association.


There are currently two pieces of legislation dealing with sports betting that have been filed for the 2019 session.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Dennis Keane, D-Wilder, puts sports betting under the jurisdiction of the Kentucky Lottery Commission.


A bill sponsored by Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, creates a separate oversight body, appointed by the governor, with the consent of the Senate.

 

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