The last we heard, Major League Baseball said it would not be taking advertising money from sports betting companies.
DraftKings, however, is still advertising via MLB teams. To wit:
— DraftKings (@DraftKings) August 13, 2018
There seems to be a disconnect somewhere. So what’s going on?
The backstory on MLB and DraftKings
The last we heard from MLB, back in June, there is no sports betting advertising whatsoever allowed:
“We have been informed that club television and radio rights holders are being approached by sports books to place advertising/enhancements. Pursuant to MLB policy, clubs must inform their rights holders that they are presently not permitted to accept such advertising. Clubs may not at this time enter into any relationship with a pure sports book, or with a casino with a sports book to the extent that the arrangement involves sports betting.”
DraftKings is still very much in the daily fantasy sports business. But it also is fully in the sports betting industry after its NJ sports betting launch last week. If MLB has changed its policy, it hasn’t been publicly voiced.
The intersting thing is that the ad above — seen at the Cincinnati Reds’ Great American Ballpark — doesn’t even mention DFS. It’s just promoting DraftKings’ brand, which now, of course, includes sports gambling.
MLB probably doing a lot of parsing right now
While DraftKings is only in one US sports betting market, that’s likely to change soon. Its sportsbook won’t be in Ohio any time in the near future, but it does have a deal to offer New York sports betting. And it likely will attempt to find its way into neighboring Pennsylvania and West Virginia, which both have legalized sports wagering.
That means that MLB is probably going through all sorts of mental gymnastics to justify a continued marketing relationship with DraftKings. From MLB’s June statement, you can argue DraftKings is not a “pure sportsbook” — it offers DFS too — or “a casino with a sports book.”
Still, that line is pretty difficult to parse, espectially when you don’t even put “daily fantasy sports” on an ad.
Anyway, Major League Baseball — the same league that fought to pay minor leaguers less than minimum wage — is still awful on many levels. And its arbitrary line in the sand on what kind of advertising from sports betting companies is OK is just another example.