In the wake of the NFL’s first suspension of an active player for gambling in more than two decades, issues related to monitoring suspicious betting activity and data licensing dominated a Colorado working group session on integrity Tuesday.
Last month, the NFL suspended Arizona Cardinals defensive back Josh Shaw through the entirety of the 2020-2021 NFL season for violating the league’s policy on gambling. An NFL investigation uncovered evidence that Shaw bet on multiple NFL games at a Las Vegas casino while he was away from the club on injured reserve. Shaw reportedly made one wager against the Cardinals as part of a 3-team parlay placed on Nov. 10, ESPN reported.
The session was the fourth of five working groups convened by the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Division of Gaming this week, as the division works on finalizing regulations on sports gambling. More than 50 gaming companies are scheduled to take part in the three-day meetings.
One proposed rule that garnered considerable discussion on Tuesday surrounds a measure that would require gaming operators to report incidents of unusual betting patterns to an independent integrity monitor. If the independent monitor determines that patterns of unusual betting activity could rise to the level of suspected fraud, the proposed rule requires the monitor to report the incident to the division immediately.
Marquest Meeks, senior counsel at Major League Baseball, urged the division to take one step further. Besides requiring the monitor to share the activity with the division, Meeks recommended that the monitor notify the affected sports governing body.
“In the realm where we ideally want to stop any corrupting influence on the integrity of sports and the integrity of the betting process before it happens, a few hour delay or a day delay as we’re playing the game of telephone, can prevent us from doing that,” Meeks said.
Going back to the NFL and Shaw, here is how ESPN’s David Purdum reported the league discovered Shaw’s wagers:
According to gaming industry sources, Caesars contacted the Nevada Gaming Control Board on Nov. 10, and subsequently the NFL, shortly after discovering Shaw had placed the wager.
Shaw was open about his line of work when filling out his application for a betting account with Caesars, even listing “professional football player” as his occupation, the sources said.
“As a matter of policy, we do not confirm or deny that an individual is a Caesars customer,” Richard Broome, executive vice president of communication for Caesars Entertainment, said in a statement to ESPN.
Data monopoly concerns
It was a dead heat into the night but freedom has pulled ahead, and it looks like Colorado will be getting legal sportsbooks.
Not officially called yet, but local sources indicate it will pass.
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) November 6, 2019
While discussions at the working group remained fairly amicable, several stakeholders offered diverging viewpoints on a proposed regulation pertaining to the collection and dissemination of sports betting data. Across the country where MLB is lobbying, the league wants states to mandate that sports betting licensees purchase “official league data” in connection with in-game wagering. On Wednesday, Michigan became the third state to pass a law imposing such a requirement.
Meeks also asked the division to consider adding a provision on data collection methods to a proposed rule that gives the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission the right to disapprove any wager viewed as contrary to the public policies of the state.
At the same time, two stakeholders asked the division to provide some clarification on certain licensing requirements for data suppliers. Rhea Loney, an attorney representing Penn National Gaming, advised the division to study potential measures that would ensure choice in the marketplace by preventing a monopoly on data supply. If suppliers are prohibited from using data that is scraped by an official league provider such as Sportradar US, Genius Sports or Stats Perform, there is some concern that the leagues and its partners will “circuitously” create a monopolistic situation, according to Will Green, head of U.S. Development at Bet365.
When asked whether the proposed rules require sportsbooks to use a data provider licensed by the state, Division of Revenue Director Dan Hartman indicated that the division will take the issue under consideration.
Hartman expects the division to publish an updated draft of rules around New Year’s Day.