Legal Sports Betting, Gaming Company Sponsorships Both Backed by Soccer Commissioner
Sports betting on professional soccer received key support Sunday after MLS Commissioner Don Garber said it was a way to better “connect with … fans.”
Speaking to reporters at the DC United versus Atlanta United match — won 2-0 by the hosting Washington team — the Major League Soccer executive explained that leagues “overall” will “support” sports betting.
The most important thing … as it relates to potential of legalized sports gambling is not necessarily revenue driven,” Garber was quoted by The Washington Post. “It’s how … we drive … more fans to participate, to get close to our teams, to [get] … more deeply in our games.”
Garber also backed the option that New Jersey’s Red Bull Arena be renamed for an unspecified gaming company in exchange for a major investment.
Gaming Company Sponsorship
The MLS is also close to getting to its own “league-wide” sponsorship with a “respected gaming company,” a move Garber supports.
Individually, the New York Bulls who play in New Jersey, have been searching for three years for a business to pay up to $4 million annually in exchange for naming rights. As of last November, the team had spoken with several sports betting companies about sponsoring the arena for up to 10 years, according to Sports Business Journal.
Of the 23 teams in the MLS, the Red Bulls are the 11th most valuable, with an estimated worth of $250 million, according to Forbes. The Red Bulls ended the 2018 regular season with the league’s best record for the third time in franchise history.
Last May, the US Supreme Court issued a ruling on a New Jersey case that allowed individual states to legalize sports betting within their own borders and struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
Currently, eight states offer legal sports betting, including New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Nevada.
US Soccer Engagement
Many other states are considering sports betting. But three of the largest — California, Texas and Florida — aren’t expected to participate anytime soon.
“I think we have to see how it plays out state by state, but once the government says it’s okay, we’re certainly not going to do anything other than support it,” Garber explained.
Betting on soccer — known outside the US as football — is found extensively in the United Kingdom, and gaming companies there sponsor teams. Legalizing sports betting also allows governments to regulate it and get more revenue by taxing it, Garber declared.
A recent study conducted by Nielsen Sports found that the expansion of legal sports betting will increase fan engagement.
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