SCOTTSDALE (REUTERS) – The players at this week's Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Arizona are excited to see if American broadcaster NBC will impact a live second-screen experience on the track.
The "NBC Sports Edge BetCast" is the first live betting companion show at a golf event.
In collaboration between NBC Sports, the PGA Tour and the Sports Betting PointsBet, the simulcast will report 2½ hours a day via the Peacock premium streaming service, which focuses on tournament odds and betting information.
The broadcast will be broadcast from a Golf Channel Live studio overlooking the famous 16 par 3 hole in TPC Scottsdale. Joining commentators Steve Burkowski and George Savaricas is Executive Editor of PointsBet, Teddy Greenstein, a former writer on the Chicago Tribune. The trio will focus on a featured group while highlighting other actions of the tournament.
PointsBet chief retailer Jay Croucher will be contributing from the company's Denver headquarters. Sports betting advertises more than 500 "types of bets" for the Phoenix Open. The BetCast crew discusses the likelihood of certain points and shots during the tournament and how players' chances of winning change during the event.
Defending Phoenix Open Champion Webb Simpson admitted he was "unfamiliar" with sports betting or PGA Tour plans. He said the only concern he has heard from tour players is the potential distraction fans playing at the event could cause.
"As we play, will there be more chatter before and after hits or before and after putts or missed putts, guys out there playing on us?" Simpson said of conversations with fellow players.
"Hopefully the PGA Tour has a very strict schedule for this kind of joke, from spectators to players.
"Hopefully they'll make a strict plan so that we don't get any comments from the weather out there during the round.
"Obviously this is something we've never looked at. Hopefully we don't have to. That's just a potential problem I see."
Justin Thomas, the world's third-placed player who finished third in a row at TPC Scottsdale, said he first heard of this week's betting simulcast on Tuesday.
"Selfishly I worry about any kind of sketchability, whether it is a communication with someone who is on the premises and could possibly shout or do something to influence a person who, for example, had a bet or something else, and that's serious, serious concern, "said Thomas.
"We play out here – that's our job and we try to win golf tournaments out here and a lot of people support families and themselves.
"I would hope it would never come to that."
Thomas acknowledged that live gambling at events "seems like the way to go" and he's interested to see how the debut simulcast goes this week.
It's a reality that Simpson, Thomas, and their PGA Tour colleagues have to get used to. The tour has been working on technology initiatives over the past few years to help the oncoming betting industry, and Norb Gambuzza, PGA Tour's senior vice president of media and games, said the BetCast stream was "another step forward" in the betting strategy Trip .
"We are extremely excited to be producing and distributing specialized betting content to complement our linear and digital coverage with our partners at NBC Sports and PointsBet," said Gambuzza.
"While we remain interested in sports betting, the tour will continue to innovate and find new ways to attract fans around the world."
PointsBet is the official sports betting partner of NBC Sports and has made golf a differentiator as it competes for new users such as DraftKings and FanDuel in the fast growing regulated market in the US.
"The PointsBet team is excited to work with our partners at NBC Sports and the PGA Tour to bring to life a very dedicated and unique sports betting production," said Johnny Aitken, CEO of PointsBet USA.
"We all know that golf is ripe for sports betting innovation, and at PointsBet we control our fate as it comes to building the best golf betting experience in the world with our fully owned and operated technology platform."