Big Data Is a Big Score for Sports Gambling

December 05, 2019

Data is now considered the world’s most valuable resource. With the rise of the Internet of Things, our access to vast amounts of information has increased, but so has our exposure. Companies everywhere are using data to make money. Now that the US Supreme Court essentially legalized sports betting in the 2018 decision Murphy v NCAA, we expect data to play a bigger role in how everyone from fans to players to leagues to third-party sports betting companies look at sports.

Here are some key points to consider on why big data is a big deal for sports gambling:

  • Advances in technology allow for franchises to analyze data at an astonishing rate. Data can help determine future player and team performance, predict upcoming trends, fuel fantasy sports platforms, and allow news outlets to use statistics to market certain sports and players.
  • For years, sports gambling was mostly illegal, giving leagues little incentive to monetize the data their product generates. But after Murphy, that data represents a new source of legal revenue, bringing intense scrutiny to how it is collected, verified, and distributed.
  • Of particular importance is in-game (or live) data streams. To make sports betting economically viable, platforms cannot simply offer odds on the outcome of games. Instead, real-time, in-game betting is the future of the gambling industry. Offering bets on something that is going to happen in the next few seconds of the game, such as whether a pitch is a ball or strike or if a player will make a three-pointer, represents the best bet for gambling platforms. But, these wagers require accurate in-game data, disseminated instantaneously. Leagues, therefore, are the logical source.
  • This raises unique questions about the ownership of sports data and how it can be used, regulated, and copyrighted. Leagues are pushing sports betting platforms to only use “official” sports data from paid partnerships, to control its export and profit from its use. The leagues argue this will ensure the legitimacy of the data and prevent third-party sports betting companies from exploiting what they claim is the intellectual property of their franchises. But for years, sports betting companies have relied on outside sources that “scrape” available technology to compile data or report real-time from games, insisting this data is not legally protectable.
  • We could see this new tension between leagues and independent companies play out in court over antitrust actions, trademark claims, and data rights.