PGA Tour to launch Integrity Program to 'protect' tournaments from gambling issues

Tuesday September 19th, 2017
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As a part of its new Integrity Program, set to take effect Jan. 1, 2018, the PGA Tour has entered into an agreement with sports data-technology service Genius Sports to monitor betting markets worldwide for suspicious activity.

"[We] felt it was important to move forward with an Integrity Program to further protect our competition from betting-related issues," said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan in a news release announcing the deal.

Legalizing sports gambling has gained some traction over the last few years, and the pending Supreme Court case involving New Jersey's quest to offer regulated sports betting at casinos and racetracks will serve as an important legislative benchmark. Although the PGA Tour is not involved in the current case, the NCAA, NBA, NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball have filed suit against Gov. Chris Christie to stop the plan.

The Tour's partnership with Genius Sports is similar to those of other U.S.-based sports leagues that have entered into relationships to better prepare themselves for the potential legalization of domestic sports gambling.

"Protecting the integrity of sport has never been of greater importance and it requires forward-thinking organizations such as the PGA Tour to proactively invest in both proven technology and education," said Genius Sports executive Mark Locke in the same release.

According to ESPN, Genius Sports and MLB entered into a line monitoring agreement two years ago. Gambling doesn’t stop once play begins: Customers can wager while the tournament is ongoing, with sites relying on live data to determine odds. Such live betting is gaining traction overseas, on offshore betting sites, and in Nevada, where some sports books offer mobile apps that feature live wagering within the state’s borders.

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The statement added that the new plan will supplement the anti-gambling policies already in place at events. "While the Tour has a longstanding policy prohibiting players from betting or related activities at Tour-related events, the new Integrity Program is more comprehensive," the statement read. Players’ support teams, tournament staff and volunteers, and Tour staff will also be barred from gambling.

The Integrity Program’s stated mission is: "To maintain integrity and prevent and mitigate betting-related corruption in PGA Tour competitions—ensuring competitions always reflect, and appear to reflect, the best efforts of the players, while protecting the welfare of the players and others involved with the PGA Tour—through clear policies and regulations, ongoing education and training, and effective and consistent monitoring and enforcement functions."

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