PGA Tour Merger with LIV Golf Complicates Massachusetts Sports Betting

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jun 14, 2023 12:00 AM
How LIV Golf merger with PGA Tour impacts Massachusetts sports betting.

The recent merger between the PGA Tour and the Saudi-founded LIV Golf has forced many states to reconsider how they will handle betting on golf for the foreseeable futre. And it isn't just smaller markets grappling with the issue. The list includes more mainstream places, such as the Massachusetts sports betting market.

Existing gaming laws sought to regulate the two leagues as if they were separate entities. People in Massachusetts could bet on PGA Tour events and golfers. They were prohibited from gambling on LIV Golf and their stable of participants, including market heavyweight Phil Mickelson.

What happens to sports betting in Massachusetts now that the PGA Tour and LIV Golf are, technically, one in the same? Many within the industry are asking that question. And it doesn't yet seem like officials in Massachusetts have a definitive answer.

Why Did LIV Golf and the PGA Tour Merge?

For many, the LIV Golf and PGA Tour alliance came out of left field. They have been direct competitors since the former entered the competitive landscape. Backed by the Saudi government's private investment fund, LIV Golf immediately began poaching some of the PGA Tour's biggest names, offering lucrative salaries and a lighter playing schedule. For so long, the PGA Tour pushed back, aggressively, against LIV's existence. This counter campaign included litigation.

Then, quite suddenly, the two forces decided to merge on June 6. CNBC's Lillian Rizzo provided details on why:

"The PGA Tour has agreed to merge with Saudi-backed rival LIV Golf in a deal that would see the competitors squash pending litigation and move forward as a larger golf enterprise. The two entities signed an agreement that would combine the PGA Tour’s and LIV Golf’s commercial businesses and rights into a new, yet-to-be-named for-profit company. The agreement includes DP World Tour, also known as the PGA European Tour. [The] Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund [which controls LIV] is prepared to invest billions of new capital into the new entity."

The merger is still waiting for the approval of the PGA Tour policy board. Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour's commissioner, expects the deal to be approved. And while he has received criticism for the decision, he's also argued the agreement will do more to make the sport accessible and popular across the globe.

However, the new LIV-PGA brand could face limitations in gambling markets throughout certain states. The merger has already proved to be a point of issue for Massachusetts sports betting, as well as other places with similar gaming laws.

Why Massachusetts Sports Betting Laws Will Need to be Reworked Following LIV-PGA Merger

A handful of states banned any gambling action on LIV Golf after its inception. This not only meant residents couldn't bet on LIV events, but they also weren't allowed to invest in betting odds for Phil MickelsonDustin Johnson and other big-time names who left the PGA Tour for the fledgling enterprise. 

Figuring out what to do following the merger has resulted in a headache for everyone involved. As Kevin Lawler, the Head of Trading at PointsBet, recently said, according to Legal Sports Report: We have our PGA Tour, which is offered in all states and a significant market for us. On the other side, we have LIV, which is allowed in some states, but not others, and then we have majors where we can or can’t do certain things with LIV players depending on the jurisdiction. We’ve had to adapt quickly.

Massachusetts sports betting, specifically, has opted against any immediate adjustments. At present, they are still treating LIV Golf and the PGA Tour as separate leagues. So, for the time being, people in Massachusetts can bet on golf events for the PGA Tour but not any LIV Golf tournaments. 

This is admittedly a temporary fix. And it won't work for every state—not even in the short term. The revenue generated from Massachusetts sports betting is currently annihilating expectations each and every month. The same cannot be said for Indiana Sports betting, which is grappling with the same issue. And it's easier to limit your market offerings when your revenue isn't getting squeezed in the first place.

This raises an interesting question...

When will Massachusetts Sports Betting and Other Markets Decide How to Handle Gambling on the PGA Tour and LIV Golf Enterprise?

Certain experts have argued this is a simple issue. Their message: The best online betting sites in the United States obviously have no choice other than to legalize gambling on LIV Golf events. They risk alienating clientele if they don't. Residents could simply take all their golf betting, as well as all of their other sports betting, to other states or offshore sportsbooks.

At the same time, Massachusetts sports betting officials, in addition to lawmakers in other states, have been reluctant to rewrite their policies to include LIV events. Their hesitance has nothing to do with the pending approval from the PGA Tour policy board, either. The merger is widely expected to pass with flying colors on that level.

Instead, states are worried about potential backlash from the federal government. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, has already opened an inquiry into the merger, according to CNBC. His concern is not isolated. Many lawmakers throughout the country have expressed dismay at the merger. Corporate structure, participating stakeholders and the Saudi government's laundry list of accused human rights violations top the list of the concerns.

Whether anything comes from Sen. Blumenthal's inquiry will be a matter of course. Most within the industry predict the merger will eventually go through. Until it does, though, Massachusetts sports betting will probably continue restricting its gambling options for professional golf events.

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for all of your sports betting needs:

  • EXCLUSIVE BONUS
    Bovada
    4.3/5
    50% bonus up to $250
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetOnline
    4.1/5
    100% bonus up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • EXCLUSIVE BONUS
    BetUS
    4.4/5
    125% up to $2,500
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Xbet
    4.3/5
    $500 Sign-up Bonus
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetNow
    4.5/5
    100% up to $1,000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • MyBookie
    50% bonus up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Bookmaker
    100% up to $400
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • Sportsbetting
    3.6/5
    50% up to $1000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • EveryGame
    $500 Sign Up Bonus
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • WagerWeb
    3.5/5
    100% up to $1,000
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetDSI
    3.3/5
    100% up to $500 + $500 at BetDsi's Casino
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

  • BetNow
    4.3/5
    100% up to $450
    No Code Needed
    Play Now

    T&C apply, 18+, Play responsibly

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

Online Sports Betting may receive compensation if you sign up through our links. Rest assured, we avoid biases and provide honest opinions on sportsbooks. Read our affiliate disclosure here.