Pirates seeking a share in sports betting revenue for PNC Park's upkeep

source: press release

Pirates seeking a share in sports betting revenue for PNC Park's upkeep As the Supreme Court of United States recently paved the way for legalisation of sports betting in the country, teams and leagues have gone all silent about their long-standing opposition to all kinds of gambling activities, and have switched their attention to a different question – how can they get a piece of the cake?!

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Everyone knows that with sports betting getting legalized in the US and the use of live streaming services (Don't have one yet? You can get your sports live streaming here) becoming a commonplace among sports bettors, the US gambling industry will witness a mind-blowing explosion in terms of revenues in the near future.

The leagues maintain their stand that the games have always been their intellectual property, however, if we go by couple of major decisions made by the Supreme Court, it appears otherwise. Mac Edelman, a lawyer who also writes for Forbes has referred to 2 important court cases in this regard – CBC Distribution v Major League Baseball Advanced Media and NBA v Motorola.

Both these cases have basically put the sports related statistics into the public domain. What they mean is that casinos can freely offer odds on all kinds of sports without being bound to pay the leagues anything.

But that hasn't prevented the leagues from pushing their luck. A proposed bill in New York some time ago would have essentially given the sports leagues the right to an 'integrity fee' from the bets being placed, among many other things. However, it failed partly because of the above-mentioned provision. Meanwhile, with Pennsylvania planning to legalise sports betting and gambling, the MLB team Pittsburgh Pirates are adopting another strategy: they're asking for a cut in the revenue for the purpose of repairing their stadium.

PNC ParkPhoto: Dan Gaken

Pirates’ take

Pittsburgh Pirates were among the several interested parties who had submitted a public comment for the under-consideration sports gambling bill in Pennsylvania. While Pennsylvania State didn't want any sports gambling at all, NFL was strictly against in-game prop betting. The other leagues stressed upon the usage of official data for the purpose of in-game betting.

However Pittsburgh Pirates went to an altogether new extent. The letter submitted by them, duly signed by their president Frank Coonelly, clearly stated that the team is asking for a cut in the bets, to fund their stadium expenses. Quoting exactly from their letter,

"We have been engaged in constant dialogue over the past five to seven years with city, county and state officials about the need allocate a funding source to the capital needs of PNC Park.

PNC ParkPhoto: David Brossard

It stands to reason that a portion of the revenue collected from sports wagering should be allocated to the maintenance and capital upkeep of PNC Park and the other sports-based facilities in Pennsylvania which provide for sports wagering in the first place. We are concerned that no such provision is included in the current law or the regulation."

Both Steelers and Pirates have been after the government for a very long time, urging them to fund the upgrades to the stadium. While Pirates need it for PNC Park, the Steelers want it for upgrades to the Heinz Field. Their earlier push was about using money earned from ticket surcharges towards the stadium upgrades. While the Pirates paid only $ 40 million for the construction of the baseball stadium, the significant chunk of the stadium's construction cost, which was $ 230 million, came mainly from the public money.

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