The War Over Official Betting

Official betting is the newest frontier in legal sports gambling and one of the most hotly contested issues in the sports wagering industry. It involves the intersection of several major players in the sport’s ecosystem, including sportsbook operators, sports leagues, casinos/racetracks, and state lawmakers/lottery commissions. This article explains what is at stake in this battle, which could ultimately define the future of U.S. sports betting.

In a sense, the war over official data boils down to one question: Which party cares most about preserving integrity in sports? It would be easy to dismiss this battle as a cynical power play by the NBA and MLB, which want sportsbooks to pay for their information. But a closer look at the debate, as chronicled by Sports Handle, reveals that it’s about much more than money.

Path to legalization: In April 2021, the legislature and governor of this northeastern state enacted legislation allowing for online/mobile sports betting with a 10% tax rate. It also requires sportsbooks to use official data.

Number of land-based sportsbooks: Three, at Delaware Park Casino, Dover Downs, and Harrington Raceway & Casino. The state lottery has contracts with Scientific Games and William Hill to operate and manage the sports betting systems. Residents can also place NFL parlay bets (3 legs or more) at retail/convenience stores across the state.

The first professional sports stadium to host a legal sportsbook in the nation launched in 2021, when BetMGM opened at Capital One Arena, home to the NBA’s Wizards and NHL’s Capitals. A few weeks later, the Washington Football Club’s 20,000-seat stadium welcomed a BetMGM Sportsbook in partnership with the team. In 2023, the state began offering online/mobile sports betting. Licensed casinos can contract with up to three brands, including FanDuel (in partnership with the DC Football Team), DraftKings, BetMGM, BetRivers, and Unibet.