PGA Tour Commissioner Latest Sports Leader to Consider Sports Betting

Posted on: January 14, 2017, 12:00h. 

Last updated on: January 14, 2017, 12:05h.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan is joining the NBA’s Adam Silver in explaining that his sports isn’t necessarily against sports betting and daily fantasy sports (DFS).

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan sports betting
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, seen here during the Ryder Cup with Tiger Woods, says he’s open to supporting sports betting and daily fantasy sports. (Image: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Monahan oversees golf’s most prestigious tour. He came into the position this month, replacing outgoing Commissioner Tim Finchem who retired after 22 years in the role.

Appearing on Golf Channel this week, Monahan revealed DFS and sports gambling is something he’s willing to consider embracing.

“You look at DraftKings and FanDuel (the two DFS market leaders), you look at gaming in the international markets, there’s a lot of opportunity there,” Monahan explained. “There’s some complexity, and that complexity has held us back from moving forward, but we will look at it and have an open mind towards it.”

Betting on golf is legal in only Nevada, but daily fantasy websites offer weekly contests in permitted states where bettors assemble rosters of pro golfers to compete against other DFS participants for cash prizes.

New Leaders, New Views

Sports betting, and particularly daily fantasy sports, has become a nationwide topic of discussion among professional leagues, governments, and the casino industry. Long frowned upon by the Big Four, the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL, the opinion on gambling has slowly been changing over the last two years.

As a new crop of executives replace their predecessors in leadership roles, advocates for the legalization of sports betting inch closer to their goal.

Silver relieved longtime NBA boss David Stern in 2014. One of his first priorities was to explore illegal underground betting on professional basketball.

In a New York Times op-ed published in November 2014, Silver said, “Despite legal restrictions, sports betting is widespread. Because there are few legal options available, those who wish to bet resort to illicit bookmaking operations and shady offshore websites. The laws on sports betting should be changed.”

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who took over baseball’s highest position in 2015 after Bud Selig stepped down after 23 years in office, said in 2015 that the league needs to give “fresh consideration” to sports gambling.

Global Reach

Silver cites sports betting’s popularity internationally as one reason Congress should revisit PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act passed in 1992 that banned the practice. Like the NBA, golf is wildly popular in countries outside of the US.

Those in the US looking to place an outright bet on the upcoming Masters, or simply this weekend’s PGA Tour event in Hawaii, must travel to Nevada to do so. But in many countries overseas, gamblers are freely allowed to place wagers online.

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has Jordan Spieth as the favorite to win the first major of the year in April. The 2015 Masters champ is at 13/2 to put on his second green jacket.

Spieth is followed by Rory McIlroy and Jason Day (8/1), Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama (12/1), and Bubba Watson and Adam Scott (16/1). Tiger Woods, currently ranked 655th in the world, is at 25/1 to win his 15th major and have his name engraved on the Masters trophy for a fifth time.