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The largest soccer league in North America, Major League Soccer, has opened their arms and embraced sports betting by allowing all 24 teams to enter into partnerships with wagering companies.
The league ruled that the changes to their sponsorship guidelines will take effect immediately.
MLS is the first major sports league operating in North America to embrace partnerships with the gambling industry.
Leaders for league are calling the move necessary to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of sports betting.
“We want to be viewed as a progressive league, and provide our clubs with an appropriate level of flexibility,” said Carter Ladd, MLS senior vice president of business development.
“We don’t want to be restrictive; we want to enable them in a positive way, and that’s why we’re taking this action. We strongly believe this is going to help drive new revenues.”
In addition to opening the floodgates for gambling industry sponsorships, the MLS also declared that teams could also feature the emblems of liquor companies on their jerseys.
The new guidelines for teams do come with a few caveats, particularly around the ages of players participating in MLS games.
If a team enters into an agreement with a liquor or betting establishment, then the team cannot sell youth jerseys with the company’s logo.
The new guidelines come a few months after the league entered into a partnership with MGM Resorts to become MLS’ “official gaming partner.”
Although the league has given the go-ahead for teams to woo these adult sponsorships, clubs in states where sports betting is not legal will be subject to the state’s current laws.
That said, the new rules will allow gambling and liquor companies to post advertisements in stadiums regardless of the state’s legal stance.
Clubs have also been granted permission to create “ancillary programming around sports betting,” including studio shows that address betting odds while using official MLS footage.
In both areas, D.C and Illinois, the new laws allowing on-site betting in stadiums.
For Washington D.C., their team, D.C. United, have already started planning how to create a sportsbook at their stadium, Audi Field.
Owner of D.C United, Ted Leonsis, also owns the city’s NBA franchise, the Wizards, and the NHL team, the Capitals.
Mr. Leonsis has been at the forefront of getting the legislation passed to include his arenas and stadium in the locations that can offer legal betting.
The new guidelines announced last week by the MLS allows all teams, including D.C. United, to offer sports betting during matches.
“Right now, we want to take advantage of the widespread legalization of sports betting in the U.S.,” Ladd said.
Ladd also added that the league will continue to “pursue best practices to protect the integrity of the game.”
With the new rules taking effect immediately, it shouldn’t be long before we see a team become the first in North America to show a betting or liquor company sponsor on their jersey.
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