PGA Tour Inks Sports Betting Partnership With DraftKings

Golf’s unique nature allowed it to resume months before other professional sports. 

Now, the PGA Tour is catching up with the rest of the field by striking an exclusive sports betting partnership with DraftKings Inc.

The deal is an extension of the current multi-year content and marketing relationship, and designates DraftKings Inc. as the “official betting operator of the PGA Tour.”

DraftKings, which became the “official Daily Fantasy game of the PGA Tour” in July of 2019, will have rights to PGA Tour trademarks in the U.S., as well as rights to advertise with Tour media and Tour partner platforms.

It also includes access to content and video rights that will allow pregame and post-game betting content, as well as distribution of highlights to users who have placed bets.

“The PGA TOUR couldn’t be more pleased with growing our collaboration with DraftKings,” said Norb Gambuzza, the PGA TOUR’s Senior Vice President of Media and Gaming.

“The growth in consumption and fan engagement we have seen over the last year in our DraftKings Daily Fantasy games has been tremendous.”

From Sports Betting Afterthought To Saving Grace

In an ordinary year, golf is an afterthought in the sports betting hierarchy. However, 2020 has been far from an ordinary year. The result is golf has assumed the role of sports betting savior. 

Its unique individual nature and built-in social distancing allowed golf to return on June 11, which has been a saving grace for sports bettors during the pandemic.

Johnny Avello, head of DraftKings Sportsbook, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the Charles Schwab Challenge (the tournament held on June 11 which ended a three-month hiatus) was “our biggest handle ever for a golf event when it was only halfway through round one. ..  It blew by all the (2019) majors.”

In addition to the droves of traditional bets placed, the $3 million DraftKings’ daily fantasy pool was the largest for a professional golf event, according to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. 

Meanwhile, BetMGM reported a 3,982% increase in betting handle year over year on the RBC Heritage. What’s more, New Jersey’s sports betting handle was up 40% in June and that figure will likely increase for July after Tiger Woods’ return at The Memorial.

“Golf has been an especially important outlet for fan engagement over these past few months, and this latest collaboration is a significant next step for both the golf and gaming industries,” DraftKings’ Chief Business Officer Ezra Kucharz said.

Welcome To The Club

The PGA Tour is the latest professional sports organization to embrace sports betting by partnering with an operator following the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal of PASPA in 2018. 

“The expansion of the relationship to now include sports betting is a natural evolution and one which fully supports and promotes the PGA TOUR’s objectives of reaching and engaging new segments of fans while introducing them to our players, tournaments and media platforms,”  Gambuzza said.

The PGA Tour is joining a crowded field looking to capitalize on the sports betting boom. 

Meanwhile, MGM is the “official gaming partner” of the NBA, Major League Baseball and the NHL. 

The NFL is the only U.S. pro league without an official sports betting partner. DraftKings, however, is the daily fantasy sponsor of the NFL, which overall has quickly done an about-face in its stance on sports betting. 

Several NFL teams have sponsorships with companies that offer sports betting, including the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Jets and Las Vegas Raiders.

Yet up until February, NFL teams were prohibited from partnering with sportsbooks. 

The Denver Broncos took advantage of the change by securing a deal with FanDuel in June, making them the first NFL team to designate an official sports betting partner and daily fantasy operator. 

Unlike the NFL, the PGA Tour is joining other organizations in diving head-first into a market that is projected to grow to $144 billion by 2024. 

About the Author

Carl Carchia

Carl Carchia has spent more than 13 years in sports journalism working for NBC, ESPN and CBS among others. He loves the Cowboys, Mets and disappointment, naturally. He likes to golf and play video games. Carl was very excited the day PASPA was struck down and is annoyed Connecticut doesn't have regulation in place yet.