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In perhaps a sign of the times, the PGA Tour has jumped with both feet into the sports betting pool, announcing that tournaments would offer on-site wagering in states where betting is already legal.
Hoping to drum up more interest in the sport and offer fans an incentive to attend tournaments, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan told the media at this weekend’s Zozo Championship in Tokyo, Japan that “you’ll start to see (betting) in the market place next year.”
Monahan believes that the demographics of golfing fans and their economic status opens the door to a broad acceptance of on-site betting that will enhance the experience for tournament attendees.
“It’s all about engagement,” Monahan said. “When done right, it gives fans the opportunity to engage with your sport over a longer period of time and have more interest in what’s happening across the entire player field. “It’s legalized in a lot of international markets, and we’ve put the right systems in place, both in terms of an integrity program and monitoring activity.”
Monahan acknowledged that by embracing betting on the Tour, officials would be more vigilant in working with sportsbooks and law enforcement to spot possible match-fixing and uphold the integrity of the sport and the Tour’s product.
Another reason the PGA Tour is embracing the ever-changing betting landscape in America is so that they can exert control over the product they offer customers.
“As it is becoming legalized by state in the U.S., you can either participate or not, and we feel smarter to be participating, versus let others control it,” Monahan said.
Tour Commissioner Monahan has been a proponent of sports betting on the circuit since the Supreme Court’s decision in May of 2018 to legalizes wagering at the state level.
At the time, Monahan told the Golf Channel, “We’ve decided it’s going to lead to more fan engagement opportunities and that’s an opportunity to grow your business, grow your fan base. If it’s regulated at the state level, we think it’s better to be a participant than to be on the sidelines. It’s better to know and be active and learn from it and understand how your fans are responding to it.”
The PGA Tour will work alongside IMG Arena to create a betting product to offer fans. IMG Arena offers sportsbooks real-time data and sports betting applications, making them an ideal partner for the PGA Tour’s plans to create a betting program from scratch.
The deal with IMG Arena was signed in November of 2018, so the two companies have been working for months to create the software to make it user-friendly for fans.
“(Sports betting is) legalized in a lot of international markets and we’ve put the right systems in place, both in terms of an integrity program and monitoring activity,” Monahan said. “We’ve done a ton of work.”
The announcement by the PGA Tour makes them the first professional sports league to offer on-site betting at events. With the NHL and NBA flirting with on-site betting at the Capital One Arena in Washington D.C., it could be just a matter of time before other leagues are taking the lead from the PGA Tour and offering wagering to fans at the games.
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