September 27, 2022 Sports Betting

Hitting the links

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Gaming America speaks to Scott Warfield, Vice President of Gaming at the PGA TOUR to let us in on the future of sports betting in golf.

For those of us more used to betting on team sports, could you please give us a brief overviewof what areas of golf are best to bet on?

Unfortunately, I don’t bet on golf anymore now that I’m an employee of the PGA TOUR. Some of the markets we’re seeing the most interest in are the head-to-heads– this player versus that player Also first-round leader has been a very popular bet, so you have your return in one day on Thursday evening. Lowest finishing American and lowest finishing European are popular and, ultimately, the biggest upside for the game is the birth of in-game betting, which is a large part of the overall pie. In more mature markets it represents over 70% of all bets, and golf sets itself up really nicely for that phenomenon because of how much content we have – we have golfers on course from seven in the morning to seven at night, multiple balls in the air at the same time, a really advantageous pace of play where someone takes a shot. It takes a few minutes to walk over the ball, a few minutes to choose the club. 

The amount of options you have from a data perspective is tremendous. That was ultimately the cause of the decision to move over. Golf and baseball, I think, have the most upsides as in-play takes off in the US. 

Can you tell us a bit about the history of how professional golf caught the gambling bug? How does a new idea get introduced to something so established? And what about the practical side of the matter, with media and data partnerships with betting companies?

Betting has been a part of this sport since the first time a tee was put into the ground. From the PGA TOUR standpoint, we were very methodical about how we got into the space and then about some of the concerns around integrity and responsible gambling. The Supreme Court made its decision and up to thirty-two states have some form of legalized gambling now. 

The PGA TOUR got into it and the first thing we did was an integrity partnership with Genius Sports, and we’re going to establish responsible gambling with American Gaming Association and the National Council on Problem Gambling and make sure we did everything we could to shore up our core product so that we could explore things like content partnerships and commercial partnerships with the likes of FanDuel and other big sportsbooks.

We want to leverage this new legal activity to grow the sport's popularity. That’s really the lens through which we look at sports betting. How do we use this to
get more people to watch our events, watch longer and ultimately deliver value back to the Tour and, most importantly, to our players, as that’s who we work for.

Speaking of which, PGA TOUR recently signed a partnership with bet365. What does a typical deal with a betting operator look like? What does the PGA TOUR hope to gain?

What we’re trying to do is expose this sport to as many people as possible through the mouthpieces that are bet365, BetMGM and so on. They all have various mouthpieces and they’re all talking to the sports fans every single day. So through these partnerships, they’re promoting the TOUR, our events, our tournaments, and what we’re ultimately trying to do is grow the golf handle, getting more people interested in putting in a $5 bet, this player versus that player, which you can imagine would make you more interested in that Sunday’s telecast. 

If you’re betting $10 on the final three holes, and who’s going to score the lowest, that is something that we think will entertain an audience, drive media value and sponsorships. For us, again, it’s about engaging the core fans and trying to gain younger fans, 24-34-year-old fans who have not previously been exposed to the game of golf. 

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