The deal creates a single source to manage and market data for the MAC. The entities say the partnership is a first in college athletics, representing “an increased focus around the oversight and control of sports data.”
While the release only references sports betting in passing, the partnership seemingly lays the foundation for enhanced opportunities for the MAC and its teams, of which six are in Ohio.
“This partnership will permit us to exert greater control of our statistics, provide increased oversight over events through the utilization of integrity services, and provide support and financial benefits for the Conference and its membership,” MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher said in a statement. “We have the responsibility to manage our assets and leverage those assets for the benefit of the student-athletes and our member institutions. The partnership with Genius Sports will assist us in those efforts.”
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‘Integrity Services’ Key Component Of Legal Sports Betting
The mention of “integrity services” is a key component of legal sports betting. In conjunction with mentions of “financial benefits” and leveraging assets to benefit student-athletes and member institutions, the picture comes into a sharper focus.
The Genius Sports website takes a more direct approach, stating: “Match-fixing and betting-related corruption pose the biggest threat to the integrity of your sport.”
So if the MAC wasn’t at least investigating the possibility of sports betting partnerships on the conference level or by allowing schools to strike their own deals, this partnership wouldn’t be a focal point.
Genius Sports already oversees delivering data and integrity programs for over 400 sports organizations. Among its clients are the NCAA, the NFL, NASCAR, EPL, FIBA, AFA, and PGA.
“As a global company that sits at the intersection between sports, betting and media, Genius Sports is uniquely positioned to help conferences deliver immersive fan experiences that include real-time opportunities,” said Mark Locke, Genius Sports CEO.
“As one of the most established integrity providers in the market, the MAC chose us while the sector is in its infancy to ensure the league, matches, colleges, and players are all protected.”
On its site, Genius Sports makes its sales pitch to governing bodies of conferences and leagues: “Your relationships with your fans and commercial strength rely on your competitions being fair, transparent and unpredictable. We combine 24/7 bet monitoring, education services, integrity audits, and over a decade’s experience, providing you with the greatest level of protection.”
In addition to governing bodies, Genius Sports also works with mobile sports betting platforms to ensure the integrity of their sites.
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MAC’s Footprint Aligns With Legal Sports Betting
The MAC is one of the rare conferences where each of its schools is based in a state with legal mobile sports betting. The MAC’s teams all call Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, or New York home. While Ohio is yet to launch sports betting, it is legally required to do so by Jan. 1, 2023.
While the MAC is the first NCAA conference to partner with Genius Sports, individual schools have reached sports betting partnerships.
It remains to be seen when the MAC will take the next step in regards to sports betting, but partnering with Genius Sports was an important first step.
Time will tell whether the MAC reaches an all-encompassing partnership with one or more mobile sports betting platforms. Another option will be allowing teams to strike individual deals with sports betting platforms.