Rise of Mobile Sports Betting urges PGA Integrity Program

Could the prevalence of in-play mobile sports betting lead to match fixing in golf? Not if the PGA Tour’s new Integrity Program has anything to say about it.

In-Play Mobile Sports Betting on PGA TourToday’s sports betting opportunities are nothing like they used to be. In the past, if you wanted to place a wager, you visited a sportsbook and did it before the contest started. Your options were limited. Parlays, point spreads, over/unders and straight-up bets (outside Canada) were the norm.

Modern technology has drastically altered the way most of us view sports. Today, we can pull up a mobile sports betting app and place these same wagers, and many more, at the drop of a hat. We can even place bets on live events, as they are taking place.

Die-hard NFL fans now watch the games with their mobile device in hand, waiting for a ripe opportunity to place another wager. Will the current drive result in a field goal? Is the next touchdown going to be a run or pass? Will the teams collectively score more in the second half than they did in the first?

In-play betting has become one of the most popular forms of gambling, and it’s got a lot of athletic associations worried.

PGA Tour Takes ‘Proactive’ Approach

The PGA Tour announced on Monday that it’s implementing a new Integrity Program. For years, players have been forbidden to gamble, but this new policy fortifies their position. It also extends the no-gambling rule to cover all employees and volunteers involved in the PGA Tour – everyone involved, from caddies to tournament staff.

Jay Monahan, Commissioner of the PGA Tour, says there is no suspicion of match fixing at this time. Rather they are taking a “proactive” approach to a situation that bears the potential to become problematic.

“Our brand is sacred, and our brand has been established by the legends of the game and it goes back for decades,” explained Monahan on Tuesday.

“We established this program not because we think there’s a problem. It’s just the world is dynamic,” he said. “Gaming is a reality in every sport. We think it’s the right thing to do when your brand is as strong as ours is to really understand what the activities are and to be proactive.”

The new Integrity Program will take effect on January 1, 2018.

Mobile Sports Betting Exists “Inside” Golf

Monahan insists there’s no issues at present, but there is one area in which in-play betting raises great concern. Both players and caddies have admitted that gambling is taking place among “inside” people. They say it’s commonly done during live play, where the bettors have inside information to increase their odds.

One caddie told the tale of an incident in which it was known that an injured player was about to withdrawal from a match. Bets went out in bulk on an opponent to win the match just before the forfeit.

Golf Digest compared it to insider trading on the stock market, an illegal practice that can result in years behind bars if caught. But most of those cases involve very large sums of money. The caddie insists they are only making “hundreds of dollars” here.

These bets aren’t hurting anyone, and are only earning them supplementary income. But recent allegations of rampant match-fixing in the tennis world raises a huge red flag for the future of the sport. It’s the integrity of the the game PGA Tour officials are trying to protect.

“Integrity is our No. 1 thing. It’s higher than anything. It’s in our blood. We’re taught that since we are 5 years old,” says Player Advisory Council member Kevin Streelman.

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