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Volume 21 No. 33
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League gets much of what it lobbied for

Flip back through the playbook that lawyers from the NBA and MLB used as they lobbied states on sports betting legislation earlier this year and you’ll find a wish list that looks much like the deal points that emerged during the NBA’s negotiations with MGM.

The league insisted that sportsbooks should be required to use official data to resolve bets, a matter that will grow in import as sports wagering evolves toward in-game betting. MGM agreed to not only do so, but to pay for the official, real-time data stream that only the league can provide, setting a precedent that the NBA now will take to other sportsbooks. While the NBA designated MGM as “official,” the league is free to sell its data stream to other books, which in turn will be able to use league marks.

The NBA wanted states to require casinos to share records of individual bets as they are placed. Though many casino industry leaders bristled at the suggestion initially, MGM agreed within the context of its deal.

Less clear is the standing of an opt-out provision that would give the league the ability to keep sportsbooks from offering bets that it saw as integrity risks. The NBA and MGM have agreed to work together on that, but what happens when they disagree?

On the much debated matter of an “integrity fee,” more recently positioned as a royalty, the deal delivered where state laws have not.

“What was very important for the NBA was that we were able to establish through a commercial relationship that we should be compensated for our intellectual property and for our official data,” Silver said. “Ultimately, it was on us

to convince MGM that there was a commercial benefit to compensating us for that data, that this wasn’t just about doing the right thing in terms of intellectual property.”

It’s the play that gaming industry leaders have suggested even before the Supreme Court issued its game-changing ruling in May.

Said Sara Slane, senior vice president of the American Gaming Association: “The whole point was, you will find companies that have no problem with any of these things. But you can’t require them.”