LIV Golf Will Not be Joining the Massachusetts Sports Betting Market...Yet

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Jul 14, 2023 12:00 AM
The Massachusetts sports betting board has denied gambling on LIV Golf events.

Well, it's official: LIV Golf will not be among the options for those betting on sports in Massachusetts. At least, not right now.

On Tuesday, July 11, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted unanimously to exclude LIV Golf events from their sports betting offerings. The decision came after DraftKings requested that they be allowed to add LIV Golf to their sports betting catalog.

Many within the industry have been waiting for this development. Massachusetts has never offered LIV Golf betting options. But their stance warranted revisiting after the PGA reportedly agreed to merge with the Saudi-backed operation.

At first blush, the initial verdict feels untenable. Sure, Massachusetts can get away with allowing bettors to wager on PGA events but not LIV Golf tournaments for now. However, can they reasonably maintain this stance over the longer term, when the PGA and LIV will essentially be one in the same? Probably not.

Of course, this all assumes that the LIV Golf and PGA merger actually goes through. Because as it turns out, it might not.

Will the PGA Tour's Merger with LIV Golf Even be Officially Approved?

The merger between PGA Tour and LIV Golf was always going to complicate Massachusetts sports betting. Right now, though, the issue isn't so complicated. The Massachusetts Gaming Commission doesn't seem likely to view the PGA and LIV Golf as one entity until they receive confirmation that the merger isn't scuttled. 

Plenty of drama is unfolding on that front. Though the agreement between the PGA and LIV was initially met with tons of push-back, the general opposition wasn't supposed to torpedo the whole thing. Weeks later, however, sentiment and momentum is beginning to shift. Mike Mazzeo laid out all the latest details in a recent article for Legal Sports Report:

"The merger between the PGA Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf is currently facing scrutiny in a US Senate subcommittee hearing. Senator Richard Blumenthal has said the hearing is imperative to expose Saudi sportswashing. 'Today’s hearing is about much more than the game of golf,' he explained in a statement, according to CNBC. '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. '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.'"

In response to the current uncertainty, Massachusetts Gaming Commissioner Eileen O'Brien basically said it doesn't make sense for the state to re-evaluate their position on LIV Golf events, let alone actually change them.

Some are even skeptical Massachusetts will green light LIV Golf betting if the merger is approved. Part of that doubt is borne from the assumption a successful merger might be repealed. Much of it, though, is rooted in speculation.

Massachusetts Sports Betting Commission May Reconsider Their Position Over Time

If the Massachusetts Gaming Commission takes the moral high ground, they will never add LIV Golf to the sports betting catalog. But we know better than to treat for-profit entities as barometers for morality. Sports wagering corporations and committees will typically side with the most lucrative legal outcomes. If LIV Golf becomes part of the PGA, you can definitely expect Massachusetts to reconsider their stance.

Bradford Hill, another commissioner for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, essentially admitted as much.

“I agree with Commissioner O’Brien’s comments on this issue," he said, per Legal Sports Report. "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. "But I too am not comfortable putting this in our catalog with all the controversy that surrounds it.”  

Base on these comments, it stands to reason Massachusetts sports betting will not include LIV Golf until at least 2025. And yet, we wouldn't be surprised to see it make the state's gambling catalog sooner. Once more, it all depends on the fate of this merger between LIV and the PGA.

Massachusetts is Not the Only State Grappling with the LIV Golf Dilemma

While other states have simply added LIV Golf to their sports betting portfolio or always carried it in the first place, Massachusetts is not alone in facing this issue. Most notably, Indiana has elected not to treat LIV Golf as an extension of the PGA. They, too, have yet to reconsider their stance.

For the time being, this is technically a cut-and-dry issue. LIV Golf isn't yet part of the PGA. Massachusetts, Indiana and others don't have to worry about the implications of allowing one arm of the same company to operate but not the other.

Rest assured, though, this matter will grow more complicated over time. Massachusetts may have their decision made for them if the merger falls apart. But if it doesn't, you better believe they'll face pressure from many of the best online sportsbooks in the United States to add LIV Golf to the PGA betting portfolio.

Will the Massachusetts Gaming Commission continue to hold out even then? Will they cave, as so many expect? Will this issue even get that far? Or will the PGA-LIV merger eventually fall through? At this point, the outcome is anyone's guess.

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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...

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