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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

PGA Integrity Program Now in Effect

PGA TOUR implementing new Integrity Program in 2018 | PGATour.com

To maintain integrity and prevent and mitigate betting-related corruption in PGA TOUR competitions – ensuring competitions always reflect, and appear to reflect, the best efforts of the players, while protecting the welfare of the players and others involved with the PGA TOUR – through clear policies and regulations, ongoing education and training, and effective and consistent monitoring and enforcement functions.

First announced back in September, as of January 1st, the new PGA Integrity Program is now the law of the land for everyone associated with events under the PGA Tour umbrella. The focus of the new program is to clearly get ahead of potential problems associated with gambling on Tour events.

I'm not a lawyer, but as I read it, if you're attached to a PGA Tour event you can't be associated in any way with gambling on that event. The list of people covered by this new policy is rather extensive:

  1. Covered Persons. This Manual applies to the following persons (“Covered Persons”):

      1. (i)  Members. Each member of the PGA TOUR (“Member”).

      2. (ii)  Players. Each player (Member or non-Member) competing in a PGA TOUR- sanctioned golf tournament (“PGA TOUR Event”) anywhere in the world (“Player”).

      3. (iii)  Affiliated Persons. Each person affiliated with a Member or Player, including each caddie, family member, spouse, partner, agent, manager, instructor, trainer and other person, who receives credentials to access a PGA TOUR Event at the Member or Player’s request (“Affiliated Person”).

      4. (iv)  Volunteers. Each volunteer for a PGA TOUR Event (“Volunteer”).

      5. (v)  Directors. Each non-player director of the PGA TOUR Policy Board (“Directors”).

      6. (vi)  Employees. Each employee of PGA TOUR or any of its affiliates (“Employee”).

      7. (vii)  Tournament Personnel. Each host organization employee, and each third party involved in the operation of the competition portion of a PGA TOUR Event, who receives credentials to access a PGA TOUR Event (“Tournament Personnel”).

And the list of potential violations is equally extensive:

  1. List of Violations. The following conduct is prohibited:

    1. (i)  Betting on Professional Golf Events. Any Covered Person, directly or indirectly, Betting on the outcome or any other aspect of any PGA TOUR Event, any other professional golf competition or any elite amateur golf competition (including Olympic Golf) anywhere in the world (“Professional Golf Event”). In this Manual, ”Betting” means placing any money or other thing of value on the occurrence of an uncertain outcome with the expectation of return.

    2. (ii)  Soliciting Betting on Professional Golf Events. Any Covered Person, directly or indirectly, soliciting, encouraging or facilitating Betting by others on the outcome or any other aspect of any Professional Golf Event.

    3. (iii)  Failing to Give Best Efforts. Any Member or Player failing to give, or accepting any money or other thing of value to not give, best efforts in any Professional Golf Event; or any Covered Person directly or indirectly encouraging or inducing any Member or Player to fail to give best efforts in any Professional Golf Event.

    4. (iv)  Contriving an Outcome. Any Covered Person, directly or indirectly, contriving the outcome or any other aspect of any Professional Golf Event.

    5. (v)  Facilitating Unauthorized Access. Any Covered Person facilitating a third party’s access to a Professional Golf Event for the purpose of conducting unauthorized activities in relation to Betting on the outcome or any other aspect of the Professional Golf Event.

    6. (vi)  Associating with Betting-Related Persons. Any Covered Person associating with any person(s) whose Betting-related activities will or might reflect adversely on the integrity or the appearance of integrity in Professional Golf Events.

    7. (vii)  Providing Inside Information. Any Covered Person providing Inside Information to a third party that he or she knew would be used, or should have known would be used, for Betting on the outcome or any other aspect of any Professional Golf Event. In this Manual, “Inside Information” means information relating to a Professional Golf Event (e.g., the health of a player, the conditions of a course, etc.) that is not publicly available and that a Covered Person knows due to his or her unique position in the game of golf.

It's clear that the PGA Tour is doing everything it can to make sure it faces a minimum of integrity problems when the worldwide explosion in legal sports gambling ultimately comes to the United States.

Again, not a lawyer, but what about the well-publicised practice round gambling that goes on between players? "Betting on the outcome or any other aspect of any PGA TOUR Event..." would seem to indicate that this long winked-at tradition is now formally banned. This is where I imagine the new policy is most likely to be problematic for players. Obviously, a player should face major sanctions if caught purposely trying to change the outcome of an event. Beyond potential legal exposure, it should end their career. What will the sanctions be if players are discovered to have had a Nassau[note]What's a Nassau?[/note] on a Tuesday practice round? Will golf fans be willing to support penalties being levied against players for doing something they do themselves during a Saturday morning round? Will the PGA Tour actually enforce this dimension of the rule?

To be clear, I believe the new policy is a good thing. I'll be surprised if we hear much about these side bets being problematic on the Tour. I'll also be listening because the Tour has backed themselves into a bit of a corner. They need to be seen as enforcing the entire policy to prevent creating another set of integrity issues. If the new anti-gambling policy isn't black-and-white and enforced consistently, it really isn't much of a policy at all.

If you're interested and enjoy parsing legal documents, you can download your own PDF copy of the PGA Integrity Program Manual here.

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