Monopolizing Sports Data
51 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021
Date Written: January 29, 2021
With legal sports betting being viewed as a panacea for state budget woes across the United States, the underlying data that fuels the sports betting industry has emerged as an especially valuable asset. In the hopes of capitalizing on state laws that have now legalized sports betting, U.S. professional sports leagues have attempted to gain exclusive ownership rights over valuable sports betting data by asking legislators to mandate that bookmakers exclusively use data sold through the league. In addition, some sports leagues have imposed policies mandating that teams bundle together their collected data for purposes of selling it exclusively through the league to third parties, and, on the league level, compiling sports data rights with other desirable league rights—all with the hopes of allowing the league to gain control over all data pertaining to their sport, and, thus, indirectly, sports betting.
These efforts by the U.S. professional sports leagues to potentially monopolize sports data markets raise novel questions both in terms of who, if anyone, owns the property rights to sports data and what efforts, if any, are needed to prevent sports leagues from improperly gaining control over sports data markets. This Article proposes that the U.S. professional sports leagues’ recent attempts to collectivize the sale of sports game data and prevent non-league affiliated entities from competing in the markets to collect, aggregate, and resell game data gives rise to both legal and policy concerns under federal antitrust laws. In particular, this Article analyzes whether the league-wide sale of sports game data should be viewed as a form of collusion among individual sports teams that may potentially violate Section 1 of the Sherman Act, and whether league-wide efforts to secure exclusive rights to sell sports game data should constitute a potential form of exclusionary conduct under Section 2 of the Sherman Act.
Keywords: sports data, sports gambling, sports law, sports betting, antitrust, Sherman Act, gambling, gaming law, antitrust law, big data, data privacy, intellectual property, sports business, data antitrust, sports antitrust
JEL Classification: K2, K21, K23, K3, L12, L13, L4, L40, L41, L43, L44, L5, L83, Z2, Z23, Z28
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation