MA Sports Betting Board Denies LIV Golf Market Ask

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MA sports betting

State regulators denied DraftKings Sportsbook’s request to have LIV Golf added to the MA sports betting catalog. 

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted unanimously against the inclusion of LIV Golf during its Tuesday meeting. 

The Massachusetts sports betting catalog request by DraftKings Sportsbook came after the news of a pending merger between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. However, the pending merger is shrouded in controversy, one factor commissioners cited in voting no. 

LIV Golf under scrutiny

The merger between the PGA Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf is currently facing scrutiny in a US Senate subcommittee hearing on Tuesday. 

Sen. Richard Blumenthal has said the hearing is imperative to expose Saudi “sportswashing.” 

“Today’s hearing is about much more than the game of golf. … It is about how a brutal, repressive regime can buy influence, indeed even take over, a cherished American institution simply to cleanse its public image,” Blumenthal said in a statement, according to CNBC. “A regime that has killed journalists, jailed and tortured dissidents, fostered the war in Yemen, and supported other terrorist activities, including 9/11. It’s called sportswashing.”

MA sports betting board concerned

Commissioner Eileen O’Brien expressed her concerns. 

“I know the Justice Department is looking into the merger currently. So in terms of a request on a merged entity, I would not be wanting to do that for that reason,” O’Brien said. “And for a lot of reasons that are in the press in terms of the financial backing of the LIV league. To me, I feel uncomfortable putting this in our catalog, even a LIV freestanding (offering.)” 

Commissioner Bradford Hill then weighed in. 

“I agree with Commissioner O’Brien’s comments on this issue. And if my golf calendar is correct and this is for the 2024 season, I think we have time that we can take another look at this in the very near future, and we need that time,” Hill said. “But I too am not comfortable putting this in our catalog with all the controversy that surrounds it.”  

Indiana also denied LIV Golf

Sports wagering operations manager Sterl Carpenter noted that the vote was regarding pre-merger LIV events.

Granted, Hill responded that only made him want to vote no even more. If a merger does happen, the commission would then be able to re-evaluate the matter as it deems appropriate. 

Previously, Indiana denied requests from BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook to offer LIV Golf betting. But the sports betting regulator is open to reviewing new wagering requests, said Jennifer Franks, an Indiana Gaming Commission spokesperson.