Effective immediately, the PGA Tour will allow players and its tournaments to be sponsored by certain types of gambling and liquor companies as well as daily fantasy companies.
Endorsements will be limited to entities that have a broad variety of interests – meaning that sponsorships by sports books will still be prohibited – as well as to logos of spirit companies only.
Previously, the tour had prohibited any association with gambling companies and limited alcohol deals to beer and wine companies only.
It was a move that seemed inevitable once the American Supreme Court decided to strike down a 1992 federal law in May of last year that banned commercial sports betting in most states.
“Ever since the Supreme Court’s decision last year we have been publicly engaged about sports betting, travelling the country talking to state officials and our constituents,” said Andy Levinson, the tour’s senior vice president of tournament administration. “The public sentiment has generally been positive.
“The benefits of these relationships is tremendous, not the least of which is, from an integrity perspective and having the ability to work with organisations, we’ll gain some insight on what’s going on, from that perspective, in our sport. Fan engagement is also a key and the ability to reach people who might not otherwise follow our sport.”
The biggest benefit, however, would be financial. The gambling industry is responsible for a total contribution of around $150 billion to the US economy annually.
The tour’s recent decision would allow for everyone involved to get their piece of the pie.
“[These companies] are far more than casinos,” Levinson said. “They’re entertainment corporations and large hotel operators with a significant customer base. And we have an audience that’s attractive to them.”
The move also comes a little over a year after the tour instituted an integrity program, an initiative to track betting patterns, spot suspicious betting trends on events as well as educate players, caddies, officials and other staff in order to avoid any possible corruption.
“We’ve taken prudent steps in advance mitigating any potential risk associated with this,” Levinson said. “And in speaking with state leaders we’ve made sure our voice is being heard.”