Dennis Drazin Suggests NBA and MLB Integrity Fees Are Brazen

Dennis Drazin Sports Betting Integrity Fees

Dennis Drazin pointed out that maintaining sports integrity should cost leagues no more now than ever, if they were maintaining integrity all along.

Dennis Drazin, the CEO of the management company which operates Monmouth Park, said Major League Baseball and the NBA “have some nerve” trying to tell New Jersey how to regulate sports betting and deal with the integrity of the games.

MLB and the NBA joined with the NFL, NHL, and NCAA to sue Monmouth Park and the State of New Jersey over sports betting in October 2014. Since then, the two sides have battled in court on four occasions: once in US District Court in Trenton, twice in US Appellate Court in Philadelphia, and once before the US Supreme Court.

It is that latest court case which will decide the legality of US sports betting at the federal level of government. The two sides are before the US Supreme Court on Dec. 4 and expect a SCOTUS decision any day now.

Dennis Drazin suggested the idea that leagues need an “integrity fee” to pay for enhanced monitoring of game integrity is absurd, because the leagues claimed they were maintaining the highest standards of integrity all along. If they were then, leagues do not need more money to maintain heightened standards now.

NBA Wants Integrity Fund

As many anticipate the Supreme Court will strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) and legalize state-regulated sportsbooks, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver gave his proposal for how federal regulations on sports betting should look. One proposal was a 1% to 2% “integrity fee” paid to sports leagues by the legal sportsbooks.

Given the leagues’ attempts to squelch bookmaker operations altogether, Dennis Drazin takes offence at such proposals. Drazin said, “The leagues have many self-inflicted integrity concerns, but NJ should not provide them an opportunity to receive revenue in the form of an integrity fee to police their games, when they have the same obligation given the enormous illegal market which already exists.”

Sports Wagering Integrity Fund

Dennis Drazin’s comments came shortly after three New Jersey lawmakers introduced a sports betting regulation bill which include an “integrity fund” for sports leagues. A bill proposed by Assembly Appropriations Chair John Burzichelli, Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, Assemblywoman Joann Downey would include an integrity fee which would contribute to the fund.

The “Sports Wagering Integrity Fund” would include an “annual integrity fee equal to the lesser of $7.5 million or 2.5% of that portion of gross gaming revenue attributable to wagers on sports events”

Though there is evidence that New Jersey lawmakers came up with the integrity fund on their own, the NBA and MLB have taken the idea and tried to apply it across 50 states. Also, the two leagues now are lobbying New Jersey politicians to pass a sports betting bill with an integrity fee included.

The Escalating Cost of Sports Integrity

Dennis Drazin makes a good point. Drazin points out that leagues now are saying maintaining integrity is going to cost them more money, though they claimed to be maintaining the integrity of sports all along. Monmouth Park’s spokesman noted how interesting it is that they would devote more resources to sports integrity now, because they might have a monetary stake in doing so.

Or, as Monmouth Park’s spokesman suggested, they might just be using the excuse to extract more cash out of operators. Drazin added, “Do they really think it costs more to preserve integrity in a legal regulated environment or is it just an attempt to get a revenue share?”

Self-Inflicted Integrity Concerns

When one considers Dennis Drazin’s charges about the league’s “self-inflicted integrity concerns”, it has long been pointed out by proponents of regulated sports gambling that the PASPA ban on sportsbooks in 46 states only drove betting on sports underground. The American Gaming Association contends that 97% of all sports betting takes place through unregulated bookies and online sportsbooks. The AGA points out such huge numbers are both a sign that PASPA has failed to stop sports betting, while it has failed to protect Americans who bet on sports.

In a regulated sports betting market, US bettors would receive consumer protections, access to self-exclusion lists, and government-mandated access to problem gambling hotlines and helplines. Regulated online sportsbooks would be required to offer such resources for gamblers and their families, while the NBA and MLB-backed federal ban leaves a huge unregulated market with no such protections.

Why Do Sports Leagues Insist on Accurate Injury Reports?

Proponents of licensed sports betting also note the hypocrisy of sports leagues when it comes to sports gambling in general. While claiming to be above such petty concerns, leagues mandate detailed injury information to the public. The main reason NFL injury reports and MLB designated list reports exist is to inform sports handicappers and oddsmakers alike of pertinent betting information. Such reports are published in newspapers and on online sports sites every day.

Leagues make certain injury information is known not as any kind of public service, but to help bookmakers produce honest sports betting lines. That helps the integrity of betting, but it also helps the leagues generate interest in their games. It is proven that sports broadcasts get better ratings due to gambler interest. Thus the TV ratings which drive billion-dollar broadcast contracts for the leagues are affected by those same league’s mandating accurate injury reports.

Now that the sports owners might be losing a 6-year legal content to thwart legal sports betting, the leagues want to extract a price out of the very operators they sought to squelch.