MLB, Casino Industry Still At Odds Over Possible "Integrity Fee"
MLB execs and casino industry reps during a panel talk both "vigorously defended what they believe is their right over the money wagered" through legal sports betting, according to Regina Garcia Cano of the AP. MLB Exec VP/Gaming & New Business Ventures Kenny Gersh yesterday told the crowd at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas that a proposed integrity fee (0.25%) is "essentially a royalty that casino companies should pay if they are going to make money off of the sport." He "defended it as a case of 'fairness' and partnership with casino operators." Gersh: "If you are going to designate someone to be able to make money off of what at the end of the day is our sport and our events because if the Yankees weren't playing the Red Sox last night, you are not betting on the Yankees and the Red Sox ... We think we should be involved in that." But American Gaming Association Senior VP/Public Affairs Sara Slane said that MLB wants a "cut of the revenue without any of the risk that's associated with it." Slane: "That's why we have to go through the regulatory process. We invest billions of dollars in buildings, in our licenses that costs us millions of dollars to go through. You want us to take that risk, pay you and then you are going to benefit on the back end as well. ... What you guys are proposing is not financially viable" (AP, 10/10).
NEW FRONTIER? In Las Vegas, Alan Snel noted one of the "big takeaways" from Gersh is that in-game betting is the "way of the future." It is going to be the "sweet spot for younger fans." Slane also cited sources as saying that 70% of sports betting "will be coming from in-game wagers." Slane said, "This is the future. This is where we want to head." Nielsen Sports Global Head of Federations Stephen Master said that it will be casual fans who "drive the traffic to in-game sports betting." Master: "All the growth will be from the casual fan." Gersh noted that MLB has "spent millions of dollars on installing cameras and radar devices to track everything at games, from velocity of the baseball off the bat to the speed of pitcher's fastballs to create a pool of reliable data for potential gamblers" (LVSPORTSBIZ.com, 10/10).