A Georgia Senate committee studying gambling has heard presentations and testimony from a series of industry stakeholders, including suggestions for a possible sports betting bill in the state.
The committee, which was established in April to studying opportunities to regulate betting, gaming and horse racing in the state, held a hearing Tuesday (October 8). This saw a range of different operators, suppliers, sports organizations and related bodies share their views on what form Georgia’s regulated sports betting industry should take.
Scientific Games, Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings and FanDuel all testified before the Senate Study Committee on Gaming and Pari-mutual Wagering on Horse Racing and Growing Georgia’s Equine Industry.
Also participating were golf’s PGA Tour, Major League Baseball (MLB) and Baylor University presented a 2011 study titled “The Hidden Social Costs of Gambling”.
Scientific Games’ presentation outlined eight best practices for a sports wagering bill that could be drawn up in Georgia in the future.
The supplier called for legislation that would establish a “fair tax rate” without league fees or data requirements. It said any bill should allow wagering on professional, collegiate, and in-state events without granting the leagues a veto over the competitions on which operators could offer odds, as well as recommending mobile wagering be permitted.
Live betting, it added, was key to the success of the market, describing the product as “the future” of US sports betting.
Caesars, meanwhile, called for “a reasonable tax on net gaming revenue” and a “strong regulatory regime.”
Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred added that provisions for sharing data between operators, suppliers and regulators would be crucial to upholding the integrity of sport.
“One of the primary benefits of a regulated sports betting industry would be increased transparency into what is currently a black box – the betting data in the illegal market,” Manfred said.
“This would provide access to billions of points of data, which could be aggregated, analyzed, and acted upon in real time to protect games from outside influences,” he explained. “To ensure this data is available to be put to proper use, operators should be required to quickly share data with sports leagues, cooperate with league investigations, and report abnormal betting activity.”
Manfred also called for a ban on certain proposition bets would also help avoid attempts at manipulation.
“Certain types of betting pose greater integrity risks than others,” he said. “For example, bets on the outcome of a single, controllable act – a bet on who commits the first foul in a basketball game or if the first pitch of an inning is a ball or a strike – are more susceptible to outside influence.
“The sports leagues know what types of betting impose the greatest integrity risks; therefore, we must be able to work with regulators to opt out of the forms of betting that are problematic.”
Andy Levinson, senior vice president for tournament administration at the PGA Tour, spoke out in favour of the use of official dat. He warned that discrepancies in results between official and unofficial data, not to mention unofficial data collectors in stadiums, could lead to controversy over whether players won certain bets.
Levinson also stressed the importance of a mobile betting component.
“Legislation must allow online betting or mobile betting,” he said. “Currently, most illegal sports betting occurs online and via mobile apps. In New Jersey, already about 80% of betting is occurring online. If we truly want to shut down the illegal market, the regulated market will need a mobile option to encourage bettors to move from the illegal to the legal market.
“Without a mobile option, Georgia bettors who currently use their phone to place bets from the comfort of their couch – perhaps not even realizing it is illegal – will continue to do so and will not participate in the regulated legal market. Our goal is to convert these bettors to the legal market.”
Daily Fantasy Sports companies DraftKings and FanDuel issued a joint statement, arguing that legal sports legislation must be passed, must include a mobile component and should encourage competition as well as a wide range of product offerings.
“People are no longer content to simply pick winners and losers or guess how many total points will be scored by the end of the game — they want variety and excitement, including in-game betting options,” they explained. “Having a variety of sportsbooks that offer innovative and unique products is the best way to ensure that Georgia consumers choose to engage with the legal sports betting market.”
Following its establishment in April, the Committee is holding a series of hearings as it investigates potential regulatory models for Georgia. It is to report on its findings by December 1, including any legislative suggestions, after which it will be abolished.
In March, House Resolution 380, which would have enabled the Georgia General Assembly to establish a framework under which gaming facilities could apply for a licence to offer sports betting services, was considered by the house but did not progress past a second reading.