Protecting Data Integrity as Sports Betting Grows in Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS - Casinos across the state are opening sports betting parlors this week, legally allowing gamblers in Indiana to place bets on professional and some collegiate sports. Some opponents of the law are concerned the integrity of sports is at risk. Others are worried about the integrity of the data used by odds makers in the now-legal betting houses.
“There's a mechanism in place that can stop that from happening, or curtail it from happening in the future,” explains Geoff Sherman, assistant director of the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute. Sherman is also a statistician for Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers games.
The IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute conducted a poll in spring 2018, asking voters about sports betting and whether the state of Indiana should seek legalization. Of the 840 survey respondents, 46 percent believe Indiana should legalize sports betting, 28 percent said no, and 26 percent were neutral.
One year later, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed the law into effect allowing for legalized sports betting in the Hoosier State. The Indiana Gaming Commission last week gave final approval to the state’s casinos to open a sportsbook.
Right now, it’s legal for Indiana casinos to accept wagers on up to 19 different professional and some Division I college sports.
Sherman says with legalized sports wagering comes the increased importance of the integrity and security of real-time sports data.
“In the past, bookkeepers would have fans in the crowd with a device, radioing back, or texting back or posting somewhere a stat from the crowd. And so, the integrity of that data was extremely reduced,”
But now, Sherman explains, trained individuals sitting courtside or in press boxes input the live, in-game action, under the watchful eye of the sports league, in real-time, using proprietary software applications.
“So, these companies pay the NBA for their data. The company sends that data to betting houses in real-time.” Sherman says other leagues, including the NFL, have similar arrangements.
This information is relayed to the league office and the data management firm before being sent to the betting houses.
This all happens as the action on the playing field is occurring. With this level of data integrity, Sherman explains, odds presented by bookmakers become more reliable through mathematical models.
“The more data that comes in, the better predictive models that can go out for odds.”
Sherman says the Sports Innovation Institute will conduct a new poll to see if attitudes have changed now that legalized sports betting is a reality in Indiana.