The PGA TOUR has revised its regulations toward sponsorships with gambling entities, a move that reflects the changing landscape of public acceptance between sports leagues and legalized gambling.
Gambling companies can now be considered for Official Marketing Partners (OMPs) for all six tours overseen by the PGA TOUR, and tournaments and players also can seek sponsored deals with such entities. Players were informed of the policy change during a meeting Tuesday afternoon prior to this week’s The Honda Classic. The change is effective immediately.
While the revision applies to larger casino companies, it does not apply in the U.S. to companies whose primary purpose is sports betting, i.e. pure sportsbooks or bookmakers such as William Hill or Bet365. Those sportsbooks, however can still be considered for potential sponsorships outside the U.S. market.
In May, the Supreme Court struck down the federal prohibition on sports betting, ruling that it violated the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Individual states now have the authority to legalize sports gambling within their borders.
The PGA TOUR conducted a comprehensive review of its policies, specifically as they applied to the organization, players, tournaments and other partners. Prior to Tuesday’s revision, the PGA TOUR had prohibited any association with gambling companies.
“As the situation with legalized sports betting in the U.S. has evolved since the Supreme Court’s ruling last May, we’ve seen broader acceptance in sports betting and gaming involvement with pro sports,” PGA TOUR Senior Vice President Andy Levinson said. “We felt it was time to look at our policies, given the public perception around gaming, and to update those policies to be consistent with public sentiment.”
“Sponsorship relationships with casinos and daily fantasy sports companies will generally be permitted,” added David Miller, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for the PGA TOUR. “Any relationship must promote responsible gaming and be consistent with the TOUR’s integrity efforts.”
The TOUR will continue its Integrity Program that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2018, in order to protect its competitions from outside influences related to gambling. The Integrity Program’s stated mission is 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.”
The TOUR has engaged Genius Sports, the global leader in sports integrity services, to develop a tailored educational program that will help players, caddies and officials to identify, resist and report incidents of potential betting corruption. Players and support staff, tournament staffers and volunteers, PGA TOUR staff and the PGA TOUR Policy Board all must adhere to the Integrity Program.
“This is something we are focused on first and foremost — that the integrity of our competition is upheld,” Levinson said.
Tuesday’s revision is another aspect of the TOUR’s goal to further engage its fans.
“We want to develop partnerships in the gaming and fantasy industry that drive fan engagement – that provide our fans a deeper way to enjoy golf,” Miller said. “We expect these partnerships will help create new golf gaming products that will enhance the in-venue and at-home fan experience.”
In addition to the revision with gambling companies, the PGA TOUR also is revising its regulations towards spirits brands. Players can now wear the names or logos of distilled spirits companies, and broadcasters can show distilled spirits advertising and in-program exposure during PGA TOUR network telecasts.