The Chief Legal Officer of Major League Baseball (“MLB”) recently released a memo reiterating to the league’s organizations that accepting sports betting advertising would violate MLB policy. The announcement comes amid MLB’s ongoing battle for inclusion of integrity fees and tight regulations in prospective legislation pending before state legislatures across the country.
What are the implications of MLB’s pronouncement?
As states grapple with whether to legalize sports betting, and what form such legalization will take, MLB and the other major organized sports leagues have been lobbying legislators to influence both the regulations and the decision concerning their entitlement to levies on sports betting transactions, such as the .2% integrity fee in New York’s current proposed legislation. MLB’s public statement prohibiting franchises from accepting advertisements from sports books (or casinos with sports books) indicates that it is willing to exert influence to affect industries that may associate with sports betting, namely advertising and marketing firms. Interested parties will be watching to see whether other major sports leagues follow suit.
What does the Future Hold for Sports Betting?
Until such time as federal intervention occurs, the various states of the Union are expected to explore legalization of sports betting. With an estimated market size of up to $150 billion per year, stakeholders in entities directly involved in the sports betting sector, as well as businesses that can profit from increased enthusiasm over legalized sports gambling (such those operating in the advertising and marketing space) must stay keenly apprised of all developments associated with this nascent industry. It is critical that those interested in entering this space, either directly or indirectly, work closely with knowledgeable gaming lawyers to review all aspects of their offerings and relevant licensing requirements.