GolfBet offers great info for bettors, but increases potential concern for wagering controversy
It has become difficult keeping pace with headlines and press releases involving technology, data and media sources assisting U.S. sports bettors over the past six months. It's been no surprise the four major sports (MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL) have quickly leaped in to secure their financial cut. But the biggest shock has been the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) perhaps outpacing all four.
Last May I highlighted their then latest initiative, a new and improved version of the ShotLink Plus data system. A platform that collects and disseminates scores and statistical data on every shot in real time, greatly enhancing the in-game betting experience. Because of those enhances, sports bettors would make multiple wagers on prop bets during golfing rounds, offering more gambling options.
It wasn’t a game-changer for the top preferred sportsbooks, but it did offer more action for the golf category and most important, an opportunity for live wagering and in-game action for what has always been known as a dreadfully boring sport to watch, therefore to wager upon.
This week, the PGA Tour and The Action Network announced the launch of GolfBet, the first ever golf-focused betting content platform. GolfBet is planning to feature weekly articles from well-known experts like Jason Sobel, Josh Perry and Peter Jennings. Also forecasted will be striking partnerships with other media companies.
In conjunction with The Action Network it will be available on the sports media company’s mobile app. The PGA Tour will also provide the new platform with a variety of content distribution assets, including footage rights to support GolfBet video content, and official data.
In a press release, Norb Gambuzza, PGA TOUR’s SVP Media & Gaming stated: “The Action Network is the perfect partner to create this type of content platform to educate and entertain fans about responsible betting on golf while bolstering the overall gaming ecosystem. We are bullish that GolfBet content and the growth of sports betting will drive fan engagement and expand our overall audience.”
Again, this has become a new language itself in reading these types of press statements. Translated this means both hardcore and very casual golf fans, please read this info to cultivate a new interest in golf wagering along with your betting passion for football, basketball, etc. Then watch events from The Masters to the West Virginia Open increasing television ratings thereby bolstering revenue opportunities for the sport of golf.
What this also does is now offer golf bettors a place to obtain "golf handicapping info" and expert tips for wagering purposes. For now, the GolfBet section on The Action Network website will be subscription-free. No doubt other prominent sports wagering portals like Vegas Insider, theScore and StatFox will likely follow along with space dedicated for their golf handicapping experts and stats proving their expertise.
If truly successful, we can expect hourly infomercials of professional handicappers screaming about guaranteeing winners for the upcoming British Open, providing golfer by golfer bias knowledge, pay only after you win, etc.
Always that key word: Integrity
As part of this endeavor, the PGA has also partnered with BetGenius to protect gambling integrity throughout all golf competition. Gambuzza pointed out: "In a typical PGA TOUR season, there are approximately 1.2 million golf shots taken across our schedule. This represents a massive opportunity for in-play betting, new types of markets for operators who have access to official PGA TOUR data, and tremendous opportunities for content generation."
In keeping with this promise, BetGenius does have excellent monitoring capability to police wagering security among all sportsbooks to notice any red-flag, alerting any minor to major integrity breech for any wagered-upon PGA golf event. BUT as I documented previously, a few big ifs. As we now welcome GolfBet, perhaps they become even bigger ifs.
Golf will always be a sole participant sport, not a team game. The percentage and chance for one individual vs. a team to manipulate a match are much greater. That is why USTA and European tennis matches have drawn the most suspicion over the past several years for wagering scandal as sports betting popularity and access have increased. Promoting in-game wagering for golf dramatically heightens the opportunity for one golfer to cleverly shank a shot for payment.
The other concern is the ultimate accident waiting to happen.
Is it not amazing how close the public sits behind the ropes at every major PGA golf tournament? Is it also amazing how well-behaved the public is responding to the "quiet please" call as each PGA golfer tees off? With say, a $500 bet riding on a 20-1 win for Justin Rose at the US Open, do you think we might someday hear some goof scream "choke" or "baba booey!!" at the 18th hole as a tied Rory McIlroy tees off in his back swing? Just sayin'.
I’m also not sure what the PGA rule book or each sportsbook's rule book calls for in a hypothetical situation like this. You can save your "friendly wager" for when you tee off against your friends. This is serious stuff. All I know is if the PGA has its way soon, we might be including golf among the FIVE major betting sports.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, including previews and picks from Glenn, click here.