What Is Official Betting?

Official betting is a term used to describe a specific type of wager placed on events in which the odds are determined by official league data. Such data may include statistics, results, and other information provided by the governing body of a sport or sports league, organization, or association whose corporate headquarters are based in the United States. The concept of official data as the one true source for US sports betting has been a central focus for NBA and MLB lobbyists since February 2018 in advance of the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn PASPA.

The concept has been met with fierce resistance by the players’ unions in professional and college sports. As a result, the leagues have settled for a compromise in which they offer an integrity fee in exchange for the use of official data. Those efforts have so far failed to win legislative approval.

Illinois and Tennessee are the only states that currently require bookmakers to use official data for Tier 2 bets, a subset of all sports wagers that includes money lines, totals, and player props (player-specific wagers). Tier 1 sports wagers are those that are made before the event has occurred, and the outcome is determined by the final score or outcome of a game.

In terms of legal definition, the term ‘official data’ is defined in Illinois law as “statistics, information, results and outcomes related to an event that are obtained under a commercially reasonable agreement with the relevant governing body of a sport or sports.” This qualifier raises serious doubts about the legitimacy of the underlying concept: How can it be possible to obtain a legitimate competitive advantage based on information that is not public?