Jake Williams, head of legal for the US at Sportradar, speaking at the recent Betting on Sports Conference in London, suggested that alignment with the major US sports leagues was a good idea for sports betting stakeholders, but stopped short of taking sides in a hot debate over integrity fees and official data.

Williams defended the way the sporting leagues had approached the mechanism of an ‘integrity fee’, while hinting that Australia provides a good example of why closer collaboration with the leagues might be a worthwhile consideration for betting industry stakeholders.

He said: “I think the leagues in the beginning had certain policy considerations they wanted to push and if you’ve read any articles or watched any clips of Roger Goodell, Adam Silver or any of the other commissioners, they talk about the integrity of the game first and foremost and then further down the line they will talk about their intellectual property, they’ll talk about other policy aspects.”

He added: “I’m from Australia and I’ve seen this idea of an integrity fee (usually termed ‘product fees’ in Australia) work relatively well there in terms of having alignment with the sports leagues there engaged and active with sports betting. In terms of that mechanism, there has been a lot of push back certainly that one per cent of turnover is a bad idea and will stifle sports betting – I think that’s a separate argument. In terms of a mechanism of having sports leagues aligned with operators, I think that’s a good idea.”

Representing Sportradar, the only sports data company that works with US sports leagues to redistribute official data for betting purposes outside of the US, Williams also expressed his view that the use of official data will continue to be a talking point and needs to be well thought out. The landmark NBA and MGM Resorts agreement may cause a push towards US leagues and operators engaging in commercial negotiations to handle certain key policy objectives such as use of official league data.

He explained: “If a legal regulated sportsbook in the state of New Jersey, Mississippi, wherever it may be, wants to offer bets on the FIFA World Cup and you have a mandate that they must take official betting data from the sports league or federation putting on the event, what do you expect that bookmaker to do? I don’t know whether you can call up someone in Lausanne or Zurich to get access to the official betting data feed.”

In conclusion, he noted: “Nowhere else has official data been mandated in law and if we are going to go down that route, which the US leagues prefer and the operators have pushed back on, then we will have to have a well thought out approach for this brand-new concept in the US. It may take a state doing it to see how it plays out.”