KNOW WHEN TO HOLD ‘EM, KNOW WHEN TO FOLD ‘EM: How Professional Sports Leagues Should Monetize Data in the Era of Legalized Sports Gambling

A Note by Ben Kovach

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“You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.”[1]  When Kenny Rogers first sung those words in his 1978 hit song, The Gambler, he immortalized the struggle of gamblers everywhere.[2]  Incidentally, he also described the conundrum that professional sports leagues find themselves in today.  Following the invalidation of the federal ban on sports wagering, professional sports leagues in the United States, particularly the National Basketball Association (“NBA”), are eager to obtain a portion of the sports wagers themselves.[3]  This note will argue that the NBA should shift its focus from lobbying legislatures, a largely unsuccessful initiative, to strengthening its data licensing efforts, where the league has already seen success.

          [1].                        Kenny Rogers, The Gambler (United Artists Group 1978).

          [2].                                Id.

          [3].                        Matt Bonesteel, If sports gambling is legalized, the NBA wants in on the profits, The Washington Post (Jan. 25, 2018 10:41 AM), (“And ideally, the NBA would like a cut of any money wagered on professional basketball games in the United States.”).