With Illinois the latest state to consider legalizing sports betting, the PGA Tour took the opportunity to voice its support for initiatives backed by the NBA and Major League Baseball.

Jay Monahan
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has aligned his organization with the MLB and NBA in regards to supporting regulation of sports betting. (Image: Middlesex East)

The revelation of professional golf’s stance on the issue of gambling was disclosed at a hearing of the Illinois Senate Gaming Committee on Tuesday. It was the first time that the tour voiced a definitive opinion on the subject.

The timing could be due to the Supreme Court’s impending decision that could change decades of precedent prohibiting states other than Nevada from licensing and regulating sports betting.

NBA Assistant General Counsel Dan Spillane and MLB Deputy General Counsel Bryan Seeley both testified at the hearing. The unidentified representative for the PGA Tour did not, but was mentioned by Spillane in his remarks to the legislative body.

“Although not a part of the NBA family, I just want to note that a representative of the PGA Tour also is in attendance today, and I understand that they also are supportive of the views that Mr. Seeley and I will be sharing with you today,” Spillane said.

Supporting NBA, MLB Efforts

Legal Sports Report later got confirmation of the pro-regulation stance of golf’s governing organization in a public statement.

“The PGA Tour supports the regulation of sports betting in a safe and responsible manner,” the statement read. “We believe regulation is the most effective way of ensuring integrity in competition, protecting consumers, engaging fans and generating revenue for government, operators and leagues. We are aligned with the NBA and MLB in this area, and we are looking for ways to collaborate with legislators, regulators, operators and others in the industry on regulation that serves the interests of all involved.”

In January PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan talked about his views on gambling, telling the Golf Channel that he would have an “open mind toward it.”

‘Integrity Fees’ for Everyone

So chalk up another professional ruling body’s support for the controversial integrity fee. The NBA and MLB have spent considerable sums trying to persuade several state’s legislators in attempting to get what amounts to a royalty from any potential sports betting a state may implement. The two leagues have a reported 30-registered lobbyists working the halls of 16 state congresses.

So far the efforts by those representing the integrity fee have been wasted money. West Virginia passed a sports betting bill that did not contain the requested 1 percent fee. Other states, such as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and Connecticut, have laws that don’t include the fee.

Indiana is the only state that has the integrity fee included in a proposed bill. Legislators have not voted on the bill and discussions continue.

Minnesota recently began debate on bringing sports betting to the state. Rep. Pat Garofalo, (R-Farmington) told the Minnesota Star Tribune he and his colleagues should act now in case the Supreme Court overturns the ban.

“If the Supreme Court removes the ban, and if we do nothing, the offshore sports books will flood social media and scoop up bettors who think they are regulated, legal and taxed,” Garofalo said.