It had to happen: Sports players leagues want in on sports gambling

The world of sports gambling wouldn’t be the same if a new story about the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) wasn’t being circulated.  The latest comes by way of a combined statement from the players’ leagues of all the major sports organizations, who collectively have called out that they expect to receive a piece of the action if sports betting becomes legal in the US.

The National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), along with the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), the Major League Baseball Player Association (MLBPA) and the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA) got together and released a statement late last week over their position on the hotly debated subjected.  Part of the statement reads, “The time has come to address not just who profits from sports gambling, but also the costs.  Our unions have been discussing the potential impact of legalized gambling on players' privacy and publicity rights, the integrity of our games and the volatility on our businesses."

The statement went on to say, "Betting on sports may become widely legal, but we cannot allow those who have lobbied the hardest for sports gambling to be the only ones controlling how it would be ushered into our businesses. The athletes must also have a seat at the table to ensure that players' rights and the integrity of our games are protected."

The MLB, the NFL and, most recently, the PGA  have all said that they expect to be paid an “integrity fee” if sports gambling is legalized.  The integrity fee would be, more than likely, equivalent to 1% of all sports gambling action.  Now it would appear that the players’ associations want to take a cut of the integrity fee. 

In addition to receiving a portion of the integrity fee, the players could also be pushing for their separate fees based on prop bets.  The use of the phrase “publicity rights” in the statement provides a clue that some expect to be paid for bets resulting from individual performance bets, such as if Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano will miss a key field goal, or if LeBron James will score 32 points without stepping on someone’s toes.

Obviously, sports betting operators are opposed to the integrity fee.  They argue that it would take too much out of their bottom line, which they claim is typically only 5% of the amount of the bet.  By their estimations, a 1% fee would eat up 20% of their take, making it a non-winning proposal. 

The US Supreme Court’s verdict on PASPA could possible, maybe, conceivably, perhaps be announced as soon as this week or by April 30, the next date the court is scheduled to release its decisions.  

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