Official betting refers to a legal form of wagering on sports events that relies on official league data. These bets are available in many regulated US markets, and they have proven popular with bettors who want to avoid the potential risk of unreliable or inaccurate data.
There are two main tiers of official data mandated by US law: a tier that applies to all wagers and one that applies only to live bets. For example, the Illinois law only requires Illinois sportsbooks to use official data for tier 2 wagers (such as a team total or accumulator).
A tier 1 bet can be placed on a team’s final score or final outcome and does not require the use of any official league data. The tier 1 bet is typically the most popular type of wager. It is typically available in the majority of US markets and can be found at all major sportsbooks.
The tier 1 bet can also be placed on the result of a game that has been shortened due to weather or other circumstances. Moneyline bets on the outcome of a baseball game that has been shortened or suspended by inclement weather typically pay if a home team wins.
As the volume of US sports betting increases, operators and bettors must be able to access and evaluate a range of official and unofficial data. The question of how much of each will be necessary and cost-effective to provide is not entirely clear. Sources within the industry peg the commercial cost of official data in the range of 0.25% of the amount wagered on each league, and that is likely the sum that operators and bettors would agree to forge a commercial deal over.
Despite this potential hurdle, the leagues have made official betting a centerpiece of their quest to control US sports betting policy. The NFL, the NBA, and MLB have all lobbied state and federal lawmakers for official data mandates, and they have all supported a mechanism that allows the leagues to monetize their data.
In addition to the NFL, the NBA, and the MLB, other major American sports leagues have negotiated deals with real-time data suppliers such as Sportradar and Genius Sports. Some have even developed their own in-play data platforms.
While these deals do not provide a direct financial benefit to the leagues, they do help ensure that the leagues have a reputable source of data that can be used to grade in-play wagers. This is especially true with in-play wagers, where a quick decision can make or break the success of a bettor’s day.
The most important factor when determining whether a tier 1 bet is worthy of official league data is the speed at which it is incorporated into an operator’s system. The faster the data reaches the bookmaker’s betting platform, the more reliable and useful it is likely to be.
The NBA and MLB have already established a robust relationship with their primary real-time data providers, while the NCAA has forged a similar relationship with Genius Sports. These relationships have grown in tandem with the appetite for US sports betting, and they are expected to continue to expand over time.