The 2018 PGA Tour season opener at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, begins in earnest this week. All winners from 2017 are invited to play this weekend, which is why it is called the Tournament of Champions. Before players can begin to play, however, they are forced to watch an online anti-gambling tutorial.
This forms part of the Integrity Program announced by the PGA in 2017, and implemented from January 1st, 2018. This program aims to maintain the integrity of the PGA Tour, as well as prevent and mitigate any betting irregularities and corruption during PGA Tour tournaments.
The online anti-gambling tutorial was specially developed by Genius Sports, which is a data technology distribution and analytics firm, based in London. Any player wishing to take part in a Tour-sanctioned event will need to have completed watching the tutorial.
The Integrity Program is a requirement for all six tours operated by the PGA tour worldwide. This program essentially bans all players, caddies, family members, instructors, trainers and tournament personnel from betting on any PGA Tour event they are part of or playing in.
GOLF BETTING POPULARITY ON THE RISE
Golf betting has been on the increase in recent years, and 2017 was no different with huge betting revenue reported worldwide. As such the PGA Tour said initiating an anti-gambling program was essential to maintain their integrity and prevent corruption. At present, golf betting Is only legal in Nevada and Delaware in America. In Canada sports betting is still illegal, however, players are allowed to make wagers as long as it is online. It also depends on the state, as each state has separate laws. So be sure to read up on sports betting laws for your state.
This looks set to change soon, however, as it seems likely the federal ban on golf betting will be repealed. In the event this occurs, expect to see a flurry of activity from sportsbooks, making their way to casinos all over the USA.
It may be seen as controversial, but the PGA Tour, as well as Genius Sports, stated trained security staff would monitor fans in the galleries smartphone usage at events this year. Golfing odds and betting patterns would also be monitored for any irregularities or suspicions wagers.
WIDESPREAD GOLF BETTING
It is considered unlikely that a golf professional would throw a round or hole of golf, as the average tournament purse now exceeds CA$7.4 million each week.
The top professionals in the world who are favourites to win tournaments are not likely to accept any irregular betting offers of CA$10,000. Any new players on the tour who struggle to make ends meet may, however, be tempted by offers from betting syndicates. A player who knows they may not make the weekends cut could be tempted to take up an illegal bride.
One final concern for PGA Tour officials is wagers or bets made between players. Some players such as Phil Mickelson, are famous for in-game bets between competitors and friends. One of his friends Billy Walters, who is a professional sport better, was actually sentenced to prison last year for insider-trading. It appears the PGA Tour will have their hands full in 2018, trying to prevent corruption.