Bills in WV and MD aim to audit sports betting content creators and touts

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Lawmakers in West Virginia and Maryland have introduced similar legislation which would require sports betting operators to audit the content creators they work with.

West Virginia and Maryland legislation fairly similar

Delegate Clay Riley filed HB3232 in West Virginia, while the Maryland bill, SB621, is sponsored by Sens. Craig Zucker and Shelly Hettleman. Both bills set up frameworks where operators need to use third-party auditors to vet content creators that work with the brand.

Here is what the Maryland bill is aiming for:

“For the purpose of requiring the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission to identify and accredit certain independent evaluators to evaluate and rate certain sports wagering content provided by certain sports wagering experts, sports wagering influencers, and content partners; requiring the Commission to establish standards of practice governing sports wagering content; requiring certain sports wagering licensees and sports wagering operators to contract with certain independent evaluators for certain purposes under certain circumstances; and generally relating to sports wagering and the evaluation of sports wagering content”

And here is how the intent of the West Virginia bill is described:

“A bill to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §29-22D-25, relating to amend the regulation of fantasy gaming competitions and implementation of sports wagering by allowing the West Virginia State Gaming Control Board to accredit independent evaluators to audit and opine on the sports betting content directly or indirectly affiliated with mobile sports wagering licensees.”

Neither bill is particularly clear about the parameters of how these audits would be conducted and what exactly they would be measuring.

Bills about self-regulation not censoring betting content

SharpRank Founder and CEO Chris Adams has ideas about what these laws could enable, as SharpRank is exactly the kind of independent auditor operators would potentially utilize should these bills pass. He has spoken with lawmakers at conferences like the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States about the issue and heard their concerns as it relates to marketing.

“The sense that I get is the goal is to sustain growth. It’s not to curb enterprise at all. I think that’s a big one just because, at the onset, it looks like this is some way to prevent or discourage growth by these sportsbooks and media properties. From what I can gather, I don’t believe that to be true at all. I think this is way more focused on trying to not repeat the mistakes that we’ve seen in more mature markets and create an actually more innovative US market because it’s fully secured with consumer protection,” Adams said.

Bills do not establish framework for auditing, but SharpRank has suggestions

It will be up to the lawmakers and regulators to determine exactly what is audited and how that information is presented, Adams said he hoped it would be something akin to Carfax or Moody’s.

“I think this legislation specifically is focused on that audit side which to me should look or could look no different than a financial statement and audit,” he said. For a tout, that could be a win-loss record. It could also reflect what conflicts of interest a content creator might have.

“I think the main thing that they’re trying to do is institute some sort of auditing standards, disclosure requirements. I always think of it as if I’m a stock analyst, I have to disclose my position in my equity report. I can’t just like say whatever I want, and then not tell the public oh, by the way, I’m long on whatever,” Adams explained.

These bills would only affect content creators who work with the operators or an associated affiliate. There would still be independent content creators whose picks and statements would go unvetted. While that may seem like the upper hand for that group, Adams pointed out that most consumers want more information and are probably going to be more willing to tail or trust someone who has the backing of an independent auditor.

Adams, who is based in Baltimore, will be in attendance on March 8 when the Maryland Senate Budget and Taxation Committee will hold a hearing on the legislation. There is no movement yet on the West Virginia bill, which currently sits with the House Judiciary Committee.