Sports betting

Aim for the pin: Why golf will be a successful betting sport for US operators

Peter D’Arcy, head of golf at Metric Gaming, on why golf will be a successful betting sport for US operators

The Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour has become the latest official sports body to throw its weight behind legal and regulated sports betting in the US. It joins the likes of the NBA and MLB, who are already championing the cause in New Jersey and beyond.

Indeed, it seems to be a case of when not if legal sports betting will be rolled out across the country. With the Supreme Court’s decision on whether to repeal PASPA now imminent, and word on the ground suggesting it will, operators in the Garden State are thought to be preparing their sportsbooks for launch.

A key consideration for operators looking to enter the sports betting space is offering a wide range of odds and markets across all the major sports. Punters will expect to be able to wager on football, basketball, baseball, soccer and horse racing, as well as motor racing, tennis, MMA and, of course, golf. One of the interesting discussions arising from the momentum in New Jersey, and the 20-plus other states that now have sports betting legislation on the table, is which sports will be the most popular with bettors. Football, baseball and basketball are the front runners, but there are other sports that are just as popular.

Golf has bags of potential as a betting sport, and is unique in that it appeals to traditional bettors and younger consumers that like to wager on smartphone and tablet devices. Traditional bettors often seek more long-term wagers (overall tournament winners) with big odds and the possibility of a large win in the ante-post markets. On the other hand, golf also appeals to younger punters, and particularly millennials, as it is the perfect fit for the fast-paced, in-play markets that lend themselves to wagering on smartphone and tablet devices – their preferred point of access.

A wide spectrum

In the early stages of legal sports betting, operators will be keen to tap into both ends of the market – mature, traditional punters and young, mobile-first bettors – and by offering a wide range of sports – golf included – they can ensure they engage the widest possible range of consumers. The popularity of golf should not be overlooked, nor the draw it will have for bettors in terms of ushering them through the doors of a casino or racetrack. For example, the recent PGA Tampa Bay Championship, which saw Tiger Woods finish second, was the highest rated and most watched golf telecast, other than the Masters, in the past four years.

Casino and racetracks with sportsbooks that screen major golf tournaments can leverage the popularity of the game, and big-name stars such as Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth, to drive punters – both mature and young – to their books. Of course, to be able to offer odds on golf – particularly in-play markets – operators will have to work with reliable data partners. Metric’s SuperLive platform, for example, allows punters to bet on the performance of golfers in real-time, as well as placing the longer bets that are favored by more traditional bettors.

The PGA Tour’s decision to back legal sports betting in the US shows that it too believes golf will be a popular betting sport. With that in mind, casino and racetrack operators should aim for the pin when it comes to offering odds and markets on the sport. It may not be quite as popular as football and baseball, but it has mass market appeal nonetheless.

Metric Gaming | PASPA | Professional Golf Association | Sports betting