The PGA Tour will roll out its gambling product next year, Commissioner Jay Monahan explaining the paramount goal is to protect the integrity of professional golf.
The Tour is now amid its Asian Swing, and is in Japan this week for the inaugural ZOZO Championship. Japan is in the process of legalizing commercial gambling, with bids being accepted for a proposed three integrated casino resorts.
Talking with the AFP news agency, Monahan said the PGA Tour is embracing sports betting in an effort to increase engagement and bring new fans to the sport.
It’s all about engagement,” Monahan explained. “When done right, it gives fans the opportunity to engage with your sport over a longer period of time and have more interest in what’s happening across the entire player field.”
Tiger Woods is leading the field after round one of the ZOZO. He’s tied at -6 with Gary Woodland. But local fan-favorite Hideki Matsuyama sits one back, and has the shortest odds in Las Vegas of winning the tournament at 3/1. Woods and Woodland are at 4/1.
Golf and Sports Betting
There are concerns among the golf world that betting on the game will lead to rowdier fans. The game known for its calm “golf clap” has become more boisterous in recent years, spectators annoyingly yelling “mashed potatoes” and other random comments as players tee off.
Some players have recently teed off on those rowdy patrons.
“What is going to happen is you will see more of this heckling stuff occurring because there are going to be those who have bet against you,” world No. 2 Rory McIlroy opined in August.
McIlroy’s comments were in response to Ian Poulter having a spectator removed after the patron rooted for his golf ball to find the bunker.
Monahan didn’t reveal specifics as to how the PGA Tour’s gambling product might operate. But he maintained that it will come with safeguards that will only better protect the game’s integrity.
We’ve put the right systems in place, both in terms of an integrity program and monitoring activity,” the commissioner stated. “I think when we come forward, you’ll see that we’ve taken significant steps to address that.”
Last month, IMG Arena – a sports information technology company headquartered in London – reached an exclusive deal with the PGA Tour to obtain its official real-time data. The arrangement includes ShotLink data, the Tour’s proprietary platform that collects and disseminates scoring and statistical data on every shot by every player.
Las Vegas-based Scientific Games has already signed on to buy the feed from IMG Arena. Scientific plans to circulate the golf data to its sports betting partners, including William Hill, Caesars, and Paddy Power Betfair.