Asher: We Need To Get Past "Integrity Tax"

Gaming companies such as William Hill want to partner with sports leagues but need something in return

Ferrall On The Bench
May 15, 2018 - 9:47 am

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The Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal ban that prohibited sports betting in almost every U.S. state Monday, and William Hill CEO Joe Asher saw it coming.

“It’s not a big surprise,” Asher said on Ferrall on the Bench. “If you were in the court room in December, certainly you left feeling pretty good about it. Obviously it was terrific to see the result. There’s a little bit of, ‘I’m the dog chasing the car, I caught the car – now what?’ We got a lot of work to do to get ready.”

William Hill is one of the largest betting and gaming companies in the world. It is in the process of bringing sports betting to, for example, Monmouth Park in New Jersey. 

“From an operational perspective, we’ll be ready to go pretty quickly, but obviously we got to sort through the legal and regulatory aspects of it,” Asher said. “We’re going to get ready to go and get ready to open up as soon as responsibly possible. But the taxpayers of New Jersey have invested over $8 million in legal fees pursuing this case, and I think they rightly deserve a chance to reap some of the benefits of that effort as soon we can responsibly do it.”

Asher is open to giving sports leagues a piece of the upcoming action, but that depends on what the leagues offer in return. The NBA’s proposed integrity fee – Adam Silver wants sports books to give the league one percent of money wagered – won’t happen out of charity.

“It depends what they’re going to offer in return,” Asher said. “We look forward to having really good relationships with the league and with team owners, but obviously we got to get past this issue of the integrity tax. But look, we’re very much interested in commercial agreements with the league where we give them money and we get something in return. There’s got to be a give-and-take on both sides. 

“We will spend a lot of money with the league and their teams in the coming years for sure,” Asher continued. “Their customers are our customers. And so, there are plenty of commercial agreements to be done, whether it’s around data, whether it’s around streaming rights, whether it’s around sponsorships. There’s money in this, of course, for the college teams, for the professional teams. But it’s got to be a give on both sides.”