Some Ad Regs Inside Fenway May Be Tough To Police

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BetMGM pulled off a coup of sorts this week in landing an official partnership with the Boston Red Sox three days before the launch of mobile sports betting in Massachusetts.

Under the deal, BetMGM will receive signage on the iconic Green Monster in left field at Fenway Park, the team’s home since 1912. It is located within walking distance of DraftKings’ headquarters in the city’s Back Bay neighborhood.

The partnership was signed against the backdrop of a strict regulatory climate, as Massachusetts unveils one of the most stringent advertising standards in the nation. One unique regulation in the Bay State may restrict sportsbooks to advertising only when at least 75% of observers will be the legal gambling age of 21 or older.

“The regs are certainly top of mind. Navigating some of these requirements in the real world are impossible to police,” BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt commented Wednesday at the iGaming Next NYC ’23 conference in Manhattan. “How do you know if it’s 71 or 77 [percent]? That’s the reality.”

As the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has crafted regulations this year, responsible gaming has been a core tenet. It is unclear if it will monitor attendance demographics at Fenway to determine if there’s any issue with sportsbooks placing ads in the ballpark.

An MGC spokesman did not immediately respond to a request from Sports Handle for comment on Thursday.

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On one hand, an argument could be made that a sportsbook operator is pushing the envelope by advertising at a baseball game that will attract a large number of kids and college students. Still, there will be thousands of older adults in the crowd at any large sports venue like Fenway Park or Gillette Stadium.

There may be a better chance of a small college arena brushing against the regulation, with students under 21 representing a considerable percentage of the crowd. In college basketball, Merrimack defeated Fairleigh Dickinson in Tuesday’s Northeast Conference championship game before a crowd of 2,214 at Bert Hammel Court, the school’s home court in North Andover, Massachusetts.

Emphasis on responsible gambling

The BetMGM logo in Fenway will appear on the left field wall in space previously occupied by advertising for MGM Resorts. Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court’s PASPA decision in 2018, MGM Resorts inked an official partnership with Major League Baseball. While Greenblatt said that the outfield signage will include a responsible gaming message, he told Sports Handle that regulatory approval of the signage was not contingent on a disclaimer to bet responsibly.

“We made a commitment a couple weeks ago to upweight significantly our responsible gaming messages in our advertising — on TV, digital, above the line, everywhere,” Greenblatt said. “Responsible gaming is core to our message. All that we’re seeing around the Green Monster is an extension of that commitment.”

On March 1, MGM Resorts and BetMGM announced a five-year extension with GameSense, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation’s responsible gambling program. The program encourages bettors to gamble within their means by placing limits on spending and game play, Greenblatt noted.

When it comes to certain Red Sox-related promotions, Greenblatt is still unsure if BetMGM will be allowed to offer various marketing containing the team’s logo. For instance, it’s uncertain if a sportsbook can offer a boosted bet on Rafael Devers to hit for the cycle with a picture of his face on a billboard.

BetMGM will not pursue a commercial deal with any other professional sports franchise in Massachusetts, Greenblatt told Sports Handle. The New England Patriots, Boston Celtics, and Boston Bruins have yet to sign partnerships with any mobile sportsbook operator.


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