Monday, May 21, 2018

Ah, the NFL - Free Market Types, Until They're Not

We've spoken quite a bit about regulatory capture here on the blog. It's a relatively simple concept that has grown in importance over the last whatever years. I think we saw a little of this rear its head today (h/t to @racetrackandy), from the NFL Commissioner.

In "asking Congress" for betting regulation, Roger Goodell states four goals that are needed.

1. There must be substantial consumer protections;
2. Sports leagues can protect our content and intellectual property from those who attempt to steal or misuse it;
3. Fans will have access to official, reliable league data; and
4. Law enforcement will have the resources, monitoring and enforcement tools necessary to protect our fans and penalize bad actors here at home and abroad.

If you chuckled at a couple of those you aren't alone. I did too.

Leaving aside that current law, and its framework, takes care of most of these items (it's not like this hasn't been running in Vegas already, to the tune of $5B in handle a year, run by the same companies that will be running sports betting) there's some extra self-serving claptrap that's super interesting.

"Fans will have access to official, reliable league data," might make you scratch your head some,  because, simply, we have that already, and, in fact, much more than that. There are scores of companies who have mulched and chopped data; who have increased data flow, some making it an art form.

Why would something need to be regulated that has worked this perfectly for consumers, the NFL and the betting ecosystem?

In my view it's not a hard question to answer - the NFL wants to be Equibase. They're trying to put a whole lot of competitors out of business, and they're asking for the feds help to do it.

Sports betting, exchange wagering and DFS have all gone, or are going through this right now as we speak. It's why, say three or four years from now, it is anyone's guess what the landscape looks like. If you're hanging your hat on big revenues and 10 cent lines like they're a done deal, you should probably wait a little while. The leagues, wrapping themselves in some sort of consumer protection cloak, have a willing audience ready to do their bidding.

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