Gambling on Sports Data

Protecting Leagues’ High-Level Data from Sportsbooks

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 helped define the legal status of sports betting throughout the United States by effectively outlawing sports gambling nationwide. In 2018, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Act in Murphy v. NCAA, thereby providing state legislatures the opportunity to legalize sports gambling subject to their own restrictions. Though Congress cannot commandeer state lawmaking, Congress can, and likely will, regulate sports gambling directly, leaving state and federal legislatures as well as sports leagues and gambling operators struggling to determine the appropriate way forward.

Commissioners across various professional leagues not only assert a property interest in the sporting event and its resulting data, but are also concerned that the laws surrounding ownership of sports data fail to adequately restrict the unlicensed collection and utilization of such data while duly presenting a threat to the integrity of the sport. As sports data has become an integral component for sportsbooks in facilitating their operations, sportbooks refute the notion that leagues maintain exclusive rights in the collection and exploitation of such data. With the effective legalization of sports gambling creating a sudden premium on sports data, the question of how such data should be sourced, regulated, monitored, and purchased is now at the forefront of legislative battles.

This Note distinguishes the types of sports data generated from sporting events and the methods by which such data can be collected, refined, processed, and commercialized. It explores the state and federal legislative sports betting proposals and analyzes the problem of competing interests between professional sports leagues and sportsbooks seeking to facilitate gambling activity. Finally, this Note argues that federal legislation should be used to solve the data rights issue and effectively balance the interests of the leagues and sportsbooks.

The full text of this Note is available to download as a PDF.