A white MGM Rewards placard is plastered onto the left-centerfield wall at Fenway Park. A DraftKings crowned ‘D’ is perched just above the Green Monster terrace.
The Boston Red Sox have had no qualms about leasing prime real estate to gambling outfits, and with sports betting now a legal reality in Massachusetts, they seemingly missed a chance to start the bidding for the most choice of parcels: their uniforms.
Thing is, that was never an option. While the Washington Capitals (Caesars) and Vegas Golden Knights (Circa) are already brandishing their new home uniform patches in camp, Major League Baseball forbids gambling advertisements on uniforms, as it, too, opens up that space for rent in 2023.
With bloodlines and office space in Boston, a DraftKings deal with the Red Sox felt natural. Like an Old Bay patch on an Orioles jersey (let’s make this happen). But maybe DraftKings won’t require a uniform patch as an acquisition tool in Massachusetts if residents patronize it with the local zeal as Canton-based Dunkin’.
Seventeen of 30 MLB teams play in jurisdictions where sports betting is legal. All sponsor patches must be approved by MLB and the MLB Players Association, with alcohol and media brands also forbidden.
According to Sports Business Journal, MassMutual will pay the Red Sox $17 million yearly with performance incentives that could increase the value of the deal to $20 million over a 10-year span.
The San Diego Padres were the first and currently only other MLB team to sell uniform real estate and will earn $9 million yearly in four-year a pact with Motorola. MLB umpires wear logos from the FTX cryptocurrency exchange.
Gambling Partnerships Concern Player Union Head Clark
Twenty-one of 30 MLB teams have some sort of gambling partnership. This has become concerning to MLBPA president Tony Clark.
In a meeting with the Baseball Writers of America preceding the All-Star Game in Los Angeles, Clark was asked if the league was becoming too involved with gambling entities.
“Getting? No. Is? Yeah. Has been? Sure,” Clark said. “We’re entering a very delicate and, dare I say, dangerous world here. We hope that it is truly beneficial for our game moving forward and that everyone who is involved benefits from it in one fashion or another. But when you have players suggest that no sooner was PASPA repealed, that they started to have [sportsbooks] following them on social media, that gets you a little twitchy pretty quick.”
The Nationals opened a BetMGM sportsbook on their stadium property this year — the first “connected” to an MLB stadium — and the Cubs have a DraftKings sportsbook nearby Wrigley Field. Baltimore announced plans for a sports lounge inside Oriole Park after naming SuperBook a sports betting partner.
Clark knows there’s no reversing this trend now.
“And so we’ll continue to pound the pavement in each of the state legislatures that are continuing to push, that have language in place and those that don’t yet that are potentially coming online,” he said, “to ensure that as much as anything, our players are protected, and their families by extension, are protected as a result of the language that’s on the books despite the fact that this train has left the station.”
That train picked up steam in April when Charlie Blackmon signed on with MaximBet to become the first active MLB player/sportsbook endorser. That move, especially considering baseball’s tortured reconciliation of gambling scandals, yielded surprisingly little blowback from fans, perhaps because the deal is largely confined to Colorado, the only state where MaximBet is licensed. Also, surprisingly, no other active MLB player has followed, although that sort of business may be left for the offseason.