PGA Tour Announces New Sports Betting Sponsorship Policies

PGA Sports Betting Sponsors - PGA Players Gambling Sponsorship Deals

Billy Horschel supported the new guidelines, but said he found it odd that daily fantasy sports was considered “gambling” instead of “sports betting”.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan spoke of the changes he has implemented to transition the tour into the era of legalized US sports betting. Monahan designed an endorsement policy last week which governs sponsorship deals between players and gambling companies.

Billy Horschel, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, spoke to Golf Channel about the potential for gambling endorsements. Horschel said, “I know there are guys out there who have been approached about deals or have potential deals in place. Deals are coming, and I think the Tour is being proactive.”

With a potential new revenue source opening itself to the PGA Tour and its players, Jay Monahan wants to guide players down that path safely and positively. A big part of that guidance is to steer players towards “gambling” companies while avoiding bookmakers and sports betting exchanges.

The PGA’s policy allows players to sign sponsorship deals with “gambling companies” such as MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, and Mohegan Sun, which are best known for operating casinos. Companies which are best known for running sportsbooks — such as William Hill, Bet 365, or Ladbrokes — are considered off-limits. Companies which run sports betting exchanges, such as Betfair, also are banned from sponsorship deals.

Players Can Sign with Casinos, Not Sportsbooks

The idea is to keep one degree of separation between golf players and bookmakers, since any single player’s performance is a part of a sports betting operator’s bottom line. Companies like Caesars and MGM Resorts also run sportsbooks, but for whom sports betting has a negligible effect on their final earnings. According to the Nevada Control Board, winnings from sports betting contributed about 2.5% to the gross revenues of Caesars, MGM, and other Vegas Strip casino companies in 2018.

After Monahan went over the new policy with players, they seemed pleased with the guidance. 2010 U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell said the presentation was positively received, adding, “Jay went over it. We spoke about gambling, integrity and protecting the sport.

“I feel like the PGA Tour has gotten out front in this, with the integrity courses we took online and with helping us to understand what’s going to be OK and what isn’t going to be OK. The integrity of our sport is paramount. He stressed the importance of how we have a collective brand, and anyone who brings any negativity to the brand is going to affect the whole brand. If anything [improper] was to happen, it wouldn’t be good for our sport in general.”

PGA’s Policy Regarding DFS

One matter stood out to Billy Horschel — policies involving daily fantasy sports sites. Horschel, who beat Jason Day in a playoff to win the 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson, told Golf Channel he was surprised to see the PGA Tour classify daily fantasy sports sites like DraftKings and FanDuel as “gambling companies” instead of “sports betting companies”. Horschel spoke from experience when making the distinction. He said, “We have seen what fantasy football, fantasy baseball and these fantasy sites have done for interest in those sports.”

It seems the 32-year old has played fantasy football in the past, so he knows how similar DFS gaming is to sports betting. He said, “I’m a perfect example. I love NFL football, but in the past I’d probably only watch the one game I’m most interested in. Now, with fantasy football, I’m paying more attention to all the games that I have players in.”

Billy Horschel gave a positive review, adding, “I think this is going to be a positive for our sport, if it’s done the right way, because the integrity of our game is so important.”

Sports Betting Could Help PGA’s TV Ratings

Last year, Jay Monahan promised he and fellow PGA executives would design a policy regarding sports betting. The US Supreme Court repealed a federal ban on sports betting in 46 US states, thus opening the doors for wider acceptance among the US betting public and major sports leagues and tours.

Because the PGA Tour has encountered lower ratings over the past few seasons, many familiar with the sport believe legal sports betting is a way to increase interesting in televised tournaments. Much of the golf seasons takes place in the summer months when the NFL, NBA, and NHL are in their offseasons.

That presents an opportunity for golf events to lure sports bettors. Studies show that people who bet on games and tournaments are more likely to watch the sporting event on television. For those who might not play golf or enjoy watching the PGA on tv, having a rooting interest is more likely to keep them glued to the television set.