MLS to allow gambling sponsors in jerseys

The MLS wants to provide the 24 clubs with an appropriate level of flexibility.
The MLS wants to provide the 24 clubs with an appropriate level of flexibility.

The Major League Soccer (MLS) from the US will allow gambling sponsors for jerseys and stadium rights.

US.- The Major League Soccer (MLS), US’ top football league, announced on Wednesday that it made changes to its sponsorship guidelines. The changes allow sports betting companies to feature their brands in MLS jerseys, as well as stadium naming rights sponsorships.

With immediate effect, the changes will push the MLS far from other national sports leagues in the US, as they have yet to embrace highly visible partnerships with the sports betting and gambling industries.

Carter Ladd, MLS’ senior vice president of business development, told Fortune that they want to be viewed as a progressive league and provide the 24 clubs with an appropriate level of flexibility. “We don’t want to be restrictive, we want to enable them in a positive way, and that’s why we’re taking this action… We strongly believe this is going to help drive new revenues.”

Despite the new guidelines being more permissive, the MLS will set more restrictions when it comes to advertising such sponsors. As Ladd said, the MLS will ban youth-sized replica jerseys from featuring gambling and liquor sponsors. It will also prohibit them on uniforms worn by clubs’ academies and youth players.

The senior VP added that the league has a unique position in the North American sports landscape. Ladd believes that it can benefit from changing attitudes. He particularly referred to the sports betting industry, which he notes it has been embraced long ago as part of the “fabric of the game” in other countries.

The changes

The clubs will be able to allow sports betting sponsors in MLS stadiums and sign digital advertising agreements. The gambling companies will be able to use clubs’ marks and logos in their ads, and encourage legal-age fans to bet on MLS games. Moreover, the companies will be able to buy advertising sports during MLS game broadcasts. Clubs will also be eligible to create programming around sports betting, such as shows discussing betting odds.

Furthermore, clubs can set in-stadium sports betting facilities such as sportsbooks. Right now, we want to take advantage of the widespread legalization of sports betting in the US,” Ladd said.

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