NBA Commissioner David Stern is playing hardball when it comes to extracting revenue from regulated sports betting operators in the United States. Late last week, the league sent out a letter to US sportsbooks threatening to cut them off from the NBA’s official data stream (as administered by Sportradar – the league’s official datastream provider). The threat was delivered to sportsbooks in a letter from their attorneys and was recently published on LegalSportsReport.

The letter itself is only about three paragraphs and gets to the point quickly saying, “Sportradar has been notified that as of 11:59 PM EST on May 28, 2019, all Authorized Data Distributors must cease providing to you NBA Official Data for use in the United States unless and until you are an Authorized Gaming Operator of the NBA. This will not affect any other services and/or data feeds provided to you by Sportradar.”

Officially, Stern say that the league had offered sports betting providers a season-long grace period in which to use its data without striking a deal, and that that grace period is over. Unofficially, the threat to pull data (which comes on the eve of the NBA finals) is a thinly veiled demand for the latest version of what the professional sports leagues have referred to in the past as an “integrity fee”.

The integrity fee was a 1 percent to .25 percent fee on each legal wager that the leagues have been unsuccessfully trying to extract from sports betting operators in regulated US markets. League commissioners have shifted their strategy and are now demanding the same money but as a “royalty fee” for using their data. In short, they really want a piece of the regulated sports betting pie, regardless of how much they say they’re against it in the first place.

So far, no major sportsbooks have accepted the league’s generous offer.


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