PGA Tour opens sponsorship to gambling companies

28 February 2019

Golf’s PGA Tour is to expand its sponsorship programme and begin to consider gambling companies as official marketing partners for all six of its tours.

Effective immediately, the PGA Tour said that the move reflects the changing landscape of public acceptance between sports leagues and legalised gambling. The PGA Tour previously prohibited any association with gambling companies.

In addition to taking on gambling companies as marketing partners, the PGA Tour will allow its tournaments and players to seek sponsored deals with such entities.

In the US, the revised rules will be limited to larger casino companies and daily fantasy sports brands, and will not apply to companies with a primary focus on sports betting, such as bookmakers William Hill and Bet365. However these companies can be considered for such deals outside of the US market.

Andy Levinson, senior vice-president of the PGA Tour, said that the organisation carried out a comprehensive review of its policies following the Supreme Court ruling on PASPA last year.

He said since the decision, which the PGA Tour had campaigned in favour of for some time, has seen a broader acceptance in sports betting and gaming involvement with pro sports in the US.

“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,” Levinson said.

David Miller, vice-president and assistant general counsel for the PGA Tour, said the revised rules will help boost engagement with fans around the world and also increase interest in the sport as a whole.

Miller said: “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. We expect these partnerships will help create new golf gaming products that will enhance the in-venue and at-home fan experience.”

In relation to the rule change, the PGA Tour has reiterated its commitment to its ongoing Integrity Program, which launched in January 2018 with a view to protecting its events from outside influences related to gambling. This program applies to all players and support staff, tournament staffers and volunteers, PGA Tour staff and the PGA Tour Policy Board.

To support this focus, the PGA Tour will work with sports integrity services Genius Sports to develop an educational program to help players, caddies and officials to identify, resist and report incidents of potential betting corruption.

The PGA Tour is also working in partnership with IMG Arena, the new betting and data division of sports media giant IMG, on an exclusive basis for the distribution of its scoring data for media and sports betting purposes.

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