PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan voices support for legalized sports betting

Add the PGA Tour to the list of professional sports leagues that is in favor of widespread legal sports betting.

Making his first public comments on the issue in a USA Today article, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said, "You have to keep in mind that betting is happening right now, with illegal black markets and offshore betting, and we don't have any exposure to what is happening. If it's legalized and regulated, you get to a point where you can better ensure the integrity of your competitions. You can provide adequate protection for consumers, which doesn't exist today. There are commercial opportunities for us, which is one of the things we're here to do, which is to create and maximize playing and financial opportunities for our players. And we believe we'd reach a much broader audience."

The NBA and Major League Baseball have been the two most outspoken advocates for an expanded, regulated legalized sports betting market in the U.S. They have been working at a state level, asking for an "integrity fee" (cut of bets on their sports) anywhere from 1 percent to .25 percent in order to cover the costs of keeping their games safe. Nearly 20 states have considered sports betting bills.

Monahan told USA Today that the PGA has studied sports betting for several years and collaborated with the NBA and MLB to align their lobbying efforts. The PGA is looking for an integrity fee as well, and like the other two leagues is looking for operators to only use official data it provides.

This has been going on while the NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL are still plaintiffs in the Murphy vs. National Collegiate Athletic Association case heard by the Supreme Court in December, which could result in expanded sports betting. The PGA Tour is not involved in the SCOTUS case.

"The point some people will make is that we are now actively supporting legalized gambling. Well, yes, we are," Monahan said. "Because we want to protect the integrity of our competitions, protect the consumer, and there are commercial opportunities. ... Like anything else we do, we are being very thoughtful. If we're to go down this path, and it's a big if, because at this point there is a lot of uncertainty, we'll be prepared and we'll protect our players and protect our constituents who are involved."

"We're making sure our voice is being heard," Andy Levinson, PGA Tour senior vice president of tournament administration, said in the article. "A lot of things remain to be determined. It's not simply switching a switch. When the court rules it's going to be big news for a while."