The best way to eliminate a problem is to stop it before it starts — and the National Football League (NFL) is doing just that.
Earlier this week data company Sportsradar US altered its relationship with mobile gaming company iPro and its ringit! app, after the League forbid the company from using its data for the game. The ringit! app would have allowed people to bet on in-game events.
Sportradar US is a sports data company partially owned by the NFL and became the official data distributor of the League back in April. Sportsradar teamed with mobile gaming company iPro to create ringit!, an app where fans would predict in-game event, initially for virtual coins. But it planned to eventually involve “both fantasy play and full sports betting for cash,” according to Sportsradar’s original press release, obtained by ESPN. Per Sportsradar’s multi-year agreement with the NFL, Sportsradar would distribute real-time scores, player statistics, play-by-play data, and the NFL’s Next Gen Stats to digital outlets.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told ESPN’s Outside the Lines that Sportsradar’s involvement with iPro and the ringit! app was done without the League’s consent or knowledge. Sportsradar hastily altered its stance, saying it will provide NFL data to iPro for a “social game where no money exchanges hands.” Tom Goedde, chief marketing officer for iPro reiterated that ringit! will eventually include sports betting, and pointed out that while Sportsradar is the official data provider of the NFL, “there are other providers of data.”
Fantasy sports attracts $18 billion worth of economic activity, but the pastime has recently become entangled in the legal stranglehold of sports betting. Earlier this week, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman declared daily fantasy leagues to be forms of illegal sports betting and sent cease and desist orders to DraftKings and Fan Duel’s offices. Both companies contended the legality of their services and filed separate lawsuits to prevent being shut down in New York. This puts quite a few NFL teams in tricky situations, as 12 teams signed sponsorship deals with DraftKings two months ago.
Fans and a gathering of daily fantasy company employees are protesting outside the offices of the New York Attorney General’s office with signs reading “if only politics was skilled based,” among other statements. With NBA Commissioner Adam Silver writing New York Times editorials in support of legalizing sports betting, and some of the most popular NFL teams sponsoring daily fantasy sites, betting on every single play of a game seems inevitable.