The PGA has always tried to distance itself from gambling and businesses that are associated with the gambling industry. However, a recent change in policy by the PGA now means that it is becoming more accepting of companies in the gambling industry and for good reason too. 

Wagering is an Unwavering Part of Golf 

Visit any golf course over the weekend, and a wager amongst friends is very common. Many have suspected that these wagers were being placed secretly during PGA Tours. Not to mention it was often rumored that most money was being wagered during the practice rounds especially amongst players. One of the more recognizable and notorious names is Phil Mickelson, a person who isn’t shy about placing a wager.  

In one publicly known instance, Tiger Woods paired off with Mickelson in what was a $9 million winner take all match over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was a sports betting spectacle that featured numerous side bets between both golfing superstars. Not to mention that it is a perfect example of how Golf goes hand in hand with wagering even at the highest level of the sport. 

What Does the PGA Now Permit? 

At the moment, the PGA has allowed sports betting businesses, casinos, and even fantasy sports services to run advertising throughout the PGA tour. However, the Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for the PGA David Miller said that they would continue to promote responsible gaming, which is in line with the PGA’s guidelines and efforts to retain its integrity. 

The new openness will allow the PGA to drive fan engagement allowing them to enjoy golf in a whole new way. It is also expected that this newfound partnership will result in new gaming products with golfing themes which too, will enhance people’s experience. 

The New Official Marketing Partners 

Now all gambling companies can be considered as part of the PGA’s Official Marketing Partners across all six tours and tournaments. Players are now allowed to seek sponsorship from businesses in the gambling industry. 

Even though the new revision in policies, for the time being, applies to all the big boys in the casino industry and not to US businesses engaged in the sports betting industry. However, the sportsbooks businesses can still be considered for a sponsorship deal for tournaments outside of the US. 

Continuation of Its Integrity Program 

The PGA’s Integrity Program went into effect back in 2018, and the goal was to protect the game from the external influences of gambling. The mission was to maintain the integrity of the PGA and its players while mitigating corruption, which could stem from the betting industry. So, the competition would always reflect the efforts of the players and also protect the welfare of all participants involved in these tours. 

Genius Sports is a leading player in the sports integrity service industry and works with the PGA to develop programs to educate players, officials, and caddies to identify corruption and resist it. Everyone who is a part of the PGA, including board members, volunteers, and staffers are all required to abide by this policy. 

Now with sports betting having expanded across the US and legalized in nine more states, the big concern for the PGA like other sports federations is the rouge influences of these laws and the new policy. Prior to the 2018 PGA Tour season all players who were going to tee off had to undergo a comprehensive online anti-gambling course. 

Final Word

The PGA, like every other sports organization or federations on earth, needs to make money, and that often comes from fans that continue to engage with and love the sport. If there is a trend that’s moving towards people betting on tournaments like PGA Tours, it is the PGA’s best interest to find a way to integrate that into the game. However, it has to be done in a way that minimizes if not eliminates corruption. 

At the moment, the PGA’s policies appear to be clear and in the best interest of everyone. However, as more states start legalizing sports betting it will be interesting to see how the policies morph locally as well as in other countries.

Matthew Beedle

Handicap: 2.7

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