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  • Writer's pictureVillanova Sports Law Blog

Black Market Sports Gambling Hiding in Plain Sight

Updated: Feb 12

By Zac Candelaria:

Quick Recap: The Supreme Court passed a bill to legalize sports betting, but they left the duties up to the states to decide for themselves if they would take the reins on regulations. Leaders in the sports world seem to believe that legalized sports betting could have a detrimental impact on the integrity of professional sports.

The bill that the Supreme Court struck down left the United States with a lot of unanswered questions, particularly a question that will bother executives involved in professional sports: How should official league data be regulated to decipher wagers in the independent betting market?

Last month, there was a congressional hearing regarding the recent legalization of sports gambling. It is apparent that many fans were happy to see the recent change in the legal framework adopted by the Supreme Court, which New Jersey promptly acted upon, followed by various other states such as Delaware, West Virginia, Missouri, New Mexico, and Missouri.[1]

Executives in professional sports are not happy with the recent change, and are arguing for independent sports agencies to purchase data in order to implement their services to the public.[2] However, due to the fact that the Supreme Court left states with the discretion to do as they please, independent sports agencies claim that there is no legal implication that they must purchase data from the leagues to determine their sports wagering outcomes.[3] The American Gaming Association believes that partnerships with leagues for purchased data is simply a way for professional leagues to get a big slice of the pie from this new market. The leagues presumably have a decent argument given that they have been victims of years of black market gambling.[4]

With states and independent agencies ready to play ball with a free market, game data seems to be the largest bargaining chip on the table. The only problem is neither side is ready to agree on a compromise that will provide both with an equal share.[5] What makes implementing a legal framework even tougher to deal with are third parties who also make money by attending games and selling official data without buying the rights from the leagues.[6] Until a decision can be made, companies regulating sports betting from an independent market will continue to dodge the bullet of purchasing rights directly from league sources, and the black market industry of sports gambling will be hiding in plain site with no implications to face.

The rumblings are growing louder in the sports industry now that sports betting is legalized and quickly growing in the United States. We need to keep an eye out on this convoluted pickle which challenges whether gaming agencies should be forced to use ‘official data’ from league-approved sources. As of the present moment, it seems as though the independent agencies are winning the battle due to the fact that there is no federal framework in place which would force the hand for gaming agencies to purchase their data from league approved officials.

[1] Rodenberg, Ryan, State-by-State sports betting bill tracker, ESPN (Oct. 23, 2018),

[2] Rybaltowski, Matt, 5 Key Issues To Watch At The Congressional Sports Betting Hearing, Forbes (Sep. 26, 2018),

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Glanz, James; Armendariz, Agustin, When Sports Betting Is Legal the Value of Game Data Soars, The New York Times (Jul. 2, 2018),

[6] Id.

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