The NBA is going forward with its plan to cut off unauthorized sportsbooks in the U.S. from accessing the league's official data feed. The announcement came just before the NBA Finals got underway on Thursday.
So people who plan on betting the seven-game series between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors are likely to funnel to the NBA’s partner sportsbook operators including MGM, FanDuel and The Stars Group.
Last week Sportradar, the NBA’s authorized data distributor, sent a letter to sportsbook operators that the league was forcing the company to halt its efforts to provide "NBA Official Data for use in the United States unless ... an Authorized Gaming Operator of the NBA."
ESPN reported that Scott Kaufman-Ross, the NBA’s head of fantasy and gaming, said sportsbooks that had been previously using Sportradar’s official data feed during the season-long grace period in 2018-19 were aware that time was coming to an end.
Basically, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
While the move won’t prohibit the sportsbooks that aren’t official partners of the NBA from offering wagering options on the biggest games of the year, the lack of access to the NBA’s official data feed will likely limit the types and numbers of bets that might be placed.
After all, sportsbooks often use these kinds of data feeds for live betting odds that can be updated quickly and efficiently in real time. That means in-game wagering options such as those that go beyond simple moneyline, over/under or point spread bets are likely to be limited or will at least have to be set by the sportsbooks manually.
That seems to give the NBA’s three authorized sportsbooks – MGM (which partnered with the NBA in July 2018), FanDuel and The Stars Group (who each did the same in December 2018) a leg up on the competition.
Moreover, the move to restrict the use of official NBA data feeds supports the NBA’s efforts to establish a model whereby using its official data feed becomes a revenue source for the league.
In states where sports betting has been legalized since May 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on the industry outside Nevada, lawmakers have been for the most part reluctant to pay fees to sports leagues such the NBA for access official data feeds.
Now the burden falls on the sportsbooks themselves to determine whether the financial impact is great enough to warrant inking their own partnership deals.