Sports betting sponsorships a concern for MLB Players Association chief

“We’re entering a very delicate and, dare I say, dangerous world here,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said this week.

Major League Baseball seems to have two minds when it comes to its teams and players entering into potentially lucrative sponsorship deals with online sportsbooks.

Speaking to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ahead of Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game, Major League Baseball Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark expressed concern about the growing involvement between baseball professional and sports betting companies.

“We’re entering a very delicate and, dare I say, dangerous world here,” Clark said, according to The Associated Press. “We hope this is really beneficial for the future of our game and that everyone who participates in it benefits in some way. But when you have players who suggest that PASPA has been repealed in barely (the 2018 Supreme Court decision that opened the door for US states to legalize sports betting) that they started to be followed by booksellers on social media, it gets you a little nervous pretty quickly .”

However, Clark’s reservations did not stop the players’ union from entering the world of legal gambling. Indeed, the MLBPA manager’s comments came a week after the July 12 announcement of a new deal between MLB Players Inc. (MLBPI), the business arm of the MLBPA, and MGM Resorts, the bookmaker’s co-owner. online BetMGM.

Under the terms of the landmark multi-year agreement, MGM Resorts can access “MLB Players Group rights to a wide range of print and digital promotions, advertisements and sweepstakes in the United States, China and the United States.” Japan,” a press release read.

Players will also become eligible to strike deals as individual ambassadors on behalf of MGM, whether through in-person appearances, social media promotions or autograph broadcasts.

“We welcome the opportunity to welcome MLB players to our world-class resorts and create unique player experiences for our valued MGM Rewards members,” said Lance Evans, senior vice president of sports and sponsorships. of MGM Resorts, in the press release.

Separate from the MLBPA agreements, Major League Baseball announced on July 14 the expansion of an existing partnership with MGM Resorts and BetMGM that maintains the latter as the league’s official sports betting partner.

Play ball

MLB and the Players Association aren’t the only parties betting on sports betting. In April, MaximBet announced that it had reached an agreement with Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon, the first active MLB player to endorse a sportsbook.

Blackmon’s deal, the financial details of which have not been disclosed, will see the former National League batting champion serve as a MaximBet brand ambassador. His duties will include participating in marketing campaigns, fan events, promotions and social media content. (A key aspect of the new collective bargaining agreement is that Blackmon and all MLB players are prohibited from promoting and betting on baseball games.)

The Blackmon deal is just the first of what could become a wave of similar promotional tie-ups. According to MLBPI chief executive Evan Kaplan, his group is engaged in active discussions with casinos and sportsbooks about potential partnerships now that MLB players are allowed to enter into such corporate agreements under the new CBA signed in March, which ended a brief lockout. .

“One of the goals of the current CBA was to open game sponsorship opportunities for players,” Kaplan added, according to Sports Business Journal.

Prepare to bet

Blackmon’s deal followed those of other athletes and online sportsbooks, such as National Hockey League star Connor McDavid in partnership with BetMGM and golfer Jordan Spieth teaming up with FanDuel.

Still, Major League Baseball had long been suspicious of the game, which is understandable given a history that includes the so-called Black Sox scandal of 1919. Nonetheless, the league decided to embrace legal sports betting following of the US Supreme Court ruling in 2018 that opened the way for more permitted betting.

Today, for example, DraftKings is building a sports betting site slated to open next year at Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, while across town, the Chicago White Sox have made Caesars Entertainment the team’s exclusive casino partner.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has also been a champion of deepening the ties between sports betting and baseball. In an April interview with ESPN, Mandred was openly excited about the positive impact sports betting has had on MLB.

“We see it primarily as a form of growing fan engagement,” Manfred said. “It’s an additional way for our fans to interact with the game.”

Andrew B. Reiter