Major League Baseball decided that if it couldn’t get a piece of the sports betting pie, it would divert revenue in any way it could, starting with advertising.
“We have been informed that club television and radio rights holders are being approached by sports books to place advertising/enhancements. Pursuant to MLB policy, clubs must inform their rights holders that they are presently not permitted to accept such advertising. Clubs may not at this time enter into any relationship with a pure sports book, or with a casino with a sports book to the extent that the arrangement involves sports betting.”
Getting a piece of the betting pie
This appears to be a losing battle for sports leagues. Even so, they are attempting “cooperation” via integrity fees and greater regulation.
Before the Supreme Court ruled on sports betting, the leagues were in violent opposition to sports betting. Now, the leagues are calling for regulations to avoid game fixing and ruining the integrity of the sport.
MLB’s investigations chief, Bryan Seeley, argued that casinos should share sports betting information with the leagues for that very reason.
“You can say that you care about integrity too,” Seeley said of bookmakers to Reuters. “But when you turn around and oppose any requirement that you let the leagues know about integrity problems, it is hard for me to believe you.”
John Wolohan, a professor of sports law at Syracuse University, told WHYY that it looked like the sports leagues were saying that if they couldn’t get in on the action, they weren’t going to accept ads for the casinos to build that business. He continued:
“The fact that they’re getting a piece of the pie, that they’re invested and partners with [fantasy sports operators] DraftKings and FanDuel just goes to show that, if they can get some money, they’re OK with [gambling]. But if they’re going to be excluded, they’re going to play hardball, so to speak.”
The DFS vs. sports betting conundrum
While MLB won’t accept ads from sportsbooks, it will accept ads for daily fantasy sports, particularly from DraftKings. MLB owns equity in the DFS operator, and while DraftKings is looking to open a sportsbook in New Jersey, word is still out over whether they will advertise, reported Legal Sports Report.
The issue here seems to be in the similarities between sports betting and DFS.
“Some people would call it hypocrisy,” said Andrew Brandt, executive director of Villanova University’s Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law, to WHYY. “I think any rational person would say fantasy sports is gambling.”