MA Sports Betting Board Talks Underage Endorsement Deals With Unions

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MA sports betting

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission adopted a regulation last week that professional athletes between the ages of 18 and 20 are allowed to participate in MA sports betting endorsement deals. 

On Monday, representatives from MLB and NBA Players Associations met with Massachusetts sports betting regulators. During a roundtable, the league players association reps agreed that the adopted regulation should remain in place.

The legal sports betting age in the Commonwealth is 21

MA sports betting carveout explained

The MGC engaged in a debate over whether allowing these deals was a good idea.

Allowing athletes 18-20 to endorse sports betting could have a negative impact by appealing to those under legal age.

State regulators ultimately compromised.

Massachusetts sports betting compromise

They decided pros between 18 and 20 should be allowed to make money on sports betting marketing and advertising, given they are already being bet on by the public. 

“We would be in favor of, in a reasonable fashion, enabling that age group, young though they may be, to partake in sponsorship or marketing or other legitimate business activities in this sphere,” MLBPA general counsel Mann Nussbaum said. 

The MLBPA has no age limitations in its sports betting marketing policy. 

Would sportsbooks go for it anyway?

“We think that with some players, their entire careers might be between the ages of 18 and 21,” NBPA deputy general counsel David Foster said. “And our players are well-aware of the fact that there’s going to be hundreds of millions of dollars made by betting companies and other people off their labor.” 

Still, Foster brought up an obvious question: would a sports betting company dive into potentially treacherous waters by signing an endorsement deal with an athlete who was not of legal age? 

After all, despite union rules that allow it, would a league want the backlash? 

“I’m not in marketing,” Foster said. “But the upside of actually using a 19-year-old to advertise sports betting, I think that some (companies) would shy away from it. Because it does seem a little unseemly. 

“However, if tastefully done, maybe it can happen. And, if so, we definitely want to support our players in taking advantage of that.” 

NFLPA prohibits player-sportsbook ads

The NFL prohibits its players from participating in sports betting endorsements. An NFLPA rep even noted that the policy has caused problems with players wanting to come out of retirement. 

“It does create an issue for our members who may have thought their careers were over, and have moved into that sphere, and now are suddenly thinking they might want to come back,” NFLPA associate general counsel Ned Erlich said. “It has created an issue for those who want to come back.”

MA sports betting deals sparse

Currently, the only active athletes in the four major North American professional sports with sportsbook partnerships are Connor McDavid (BetMGM) and Auston Matthews (Bet99). John Tavares is an ambassador for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s Proline brand

Matthews and McDavid declined to discuss those deals with CBC.

Charlie Blackmon had a sports betting deal with MaximBet before the operator shuttered its business. Jae Crowder (Gila River) and Devante Adams (MGM Resorts) have casino deals.