The Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) has voted unanimously to deny a request to add LIV Golf to the state’s sports wagering catalog.
In so doing, any LIV Golf event prior to its subsequent merger with the PGA will not be eligible for sports betting in Massachusetts.
Concerns over funding
Despite it being available in other jurisdictions, LIV Golf was not added to the state’s sports wagering catalog prior to the launch of Massachusetts sports betting.
In order for sports betting operators to offer odds on an event in Massachusetts, that sport must be in the sports wagering catalog, as approved by the MGC.
The request to add LIV Golf to the sports wagering catalog came from DraftKings Sportsbook Massachusetts.
The commission cited concerns over the US Justice Department’s investigation into a proposed merger between the PGA and LIV Golf, as well as the funding for the LIV Tour. That organization gets its money from the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of the government of Saudi Arabia.
MGC errs on side of caution
The MGC has displayed caution in adding sports to the wagering catalog that have any controversy. Earlier this year, the commission denied a request to add slap fighting to the catalog.
It also chose not to approve the addition of Magic City Jai Alai, citing concerns over the integrity of that sport and league.
Because the Saudi government has been implicated in the support of terrorism, some groups, such as the families of 9/11 victims, have criticized the PGA for making an agreement with LIV Golf.
Clouding the situation is the nebulous nature of the alliance between the PGA and LIV. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said June 6 that the deal was merely a “framework agreement” and not a “definitive agreement,” according to reporting from the New York Times.
Future collaboration between LIV Golf and PGA Tour
Following acrimony between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, which included several high-profile golfers accepting lucrative contracts to play in LIV events, the two entities surprised many observers last month when they came to an agreement to partner.
Technically, the two bodies will not merge. Instead, a new yet to be named company will be created to manage the business interests of professional golf. That company would control the former DP World Tour, as well as any television or other media rights for the PGA Tour.
The latter would remain a non-profit organization and maintain governance over its events and golfers. It’s unclear how much power LIV would have over the structure of a new tour, or whether LIV events will be folded into a newly branded tour or into the PGA.