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golf & gaming

Interactive in-play betting Launched in 2001, the data-collecting system is able to track every shot, helping golfers analyze performance, architects design courses, officials organize tournaments, and fans place wagers. In 2018, IMG ARENA was named the TOUR’s official data distributor for media and betting. BetMGM signed an agreement in March 2021 to utilize IMG’s Golf Event Centre, a front-end sports betting solution designed to revolutionize the golf betting experience by enabling interactive in-play betting. “I see golf and baseball as two of the properties that probably have the greatest upside when it comes to sports betting,” said Scott Warfield, PGA TOUR Vice President of Gaming. “I believe that because of the amount of content each has and the pace of play, which in the past has been viewed as a negative. The game is perfectly slow for in-play betting. “That’s where the trend is headed and I think golf, with balls in the air from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and an orderly pace of play, lends itself perfectly to that in-play phenomenon.”

“I see golf and baseball as two of the properties that probably have the greatest upside when it comes to sports betting.” — Scott Warfield, PGA TOUR Vice President of Gaming

Growing popularity

bb A volunteer enters yardage data into the ShotLink system during the final round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links.

In-play betting At the cornerstone of this undertaking is IMG ARENA and the Golf Event Centre. The industryfirst product offers fast, comprehensive shot-byshot data and markets live streaming for in-play betting and interactive course visualizations. “The PGA TOUR is a fantastic partner. We are completely aligned on our vision and goals, as you can see from the product offering developed,” said Max Wright, IMG ARENA Senior Vice President of Commercial. “… As leaders in our fields, both parties are constantly looking at what comes next, finding new ways to evolve and improve the golf betting experience and levels of fan engagement. “There is a significant demand for betting on golf around the world. Our research shows that 37 percent of golf fans are active sports bettors and we are jointly committed to delivering a fun and responsible gambling experience. 

images: Getty Images

In-play betting is prevalent abroad, with approximately 70 percent of bets in Europe made in-game, and this is growing in popularity in the United States with 21 states and Washington, D.C. permitting sports betting. Warfield is bullish on the idea of sports betting being an avenue for young, casual golf fans to have an entry point to the PGA TOUR. Hypothetically, an 18-year-old college student watches the final few holes of THE PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP because the golfer he bet on is still in contention. Especially

if he won, the hope is that this fan would watch more tournaments, potentially betting on them, and then maybe attends a local event and gets more ingrained in the TOUR. “I think the core fan will be the ambassador for this activity in the short term,” Warfield said. “If you’re asking me longer term how am I going to judge success, in 2030 the fan base is more diversified, younger, larger and we point to one of the reasons why being the growth of sports betting. … It’s not going to happen overnight— this isn’t a light switch—but we’re trying to put the fundamental pieces in place now and develop the relationships now so that five, seven, 10 years from now, we’re really starting to see the fruits of our labor.”

126  PGA TOUR ESSENTIAL GUIDE  June – December 2021

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