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MLS opens up to gambling sponsorship


North America’s Major League Soccer (MLS) has updated its commercial policies to allow its teams to enter into shirt sponsorship deals with companies in the gambling sector.

Sponsorship opportunities, which will also be open to companies in the alcoholic spirits market, will include jersey fronts and sleeve patch space, with the latter available from 2020.

The new rules will only apply to adult jerseys, with betting or spirit branding not permitted on youth-sized shirts. MLS professional players under the age of 21 will also not carry sponsorship on their jerseys.

Aside from shirt sponsorship, the MLS will also now allow gambling companies to strike commercial deals in relation to stadium naming rights, stadium signage, field-board advertising, ad spots and custom programming.

In addition, betting operators will be able to open private lounges both inside MLS stadia and on property adjacent to the venue.

The league has begun to develop closer links with the gambling sector, striking a partnership with MGM Resorts, and its joint venture with GVC Holdings Roar Digital, in March this year.

MGM Resorts will serve as the first official gaming partner of MLS, with Roar the exclusive official sports betting partner of the league. Both parties will also have access MLS data, game footage and photography, MLS-themed promotions and sweepstakes, television-visible signage for nationally broadcast games in the US, MLS talent and hospitality and event opportunities.

The MLS will also work with MGM Resorts and Roar to develop an exclusive free-to-play game for fans, while other elements of the deal include MGM Resorts and Roar having access to activation opportunities at major MLS events.