PGA of America targets Ryder Cup 2025 for US-focused betting sponsorship
The PGA of America will focus on the 2025 Ryder Cup in New York to launch its first wagering sponsorship, having ran out of time to fill the betting category for recent event in Rome.
Over the last 18 months, the PGA of America has been looking at the Ryder Cup as a possible first event to kickstart its search for an official betting operator in the US.
The national organisation, which represents golf professionals in the US, is the co-owner of the Ryder Cup in a jointly-managed venture with Ryder Cup Europe and the full rights-holder to the PGA Championship. Ryder Cup Europe signed a Europe-wide partnership (excluding the UK and Ireland) with betting operator Olybet in August.
The Ryder Cup’s US operation led by the PGA of America does not have a US-facing wagering brand in place for the 2023 Ryder Cup, hosted at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Italy, but believes the New York event hosted at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale has far greater potential.
It is further understood that the organisation is open to doing individual territory deals because of the fragmentation of the wagering industry globally and the remote possibility of adding a wagering sector brand to the Ryder Cup’s expanding Worldwide Partner tier.
The 2025 Ryder Cup is promising for the PGA of America because sports betting is legal in New York, with nine licensed online NY sportsbooks: BetMGM, FanDuel, PointsBet, BetRivers, Caesars, WynnBET, DraftKings, Bally Bet and Resorts World Bet.
Although a US betting operator without a New York state licence could theoretically sponsor the event, it is thought that only those with a New York licence would be considered.
That said, Ryder Cup Europe overcame the national ban on betting sponsorship in Italy for the 2023 Ryder Cup by signing up Olybet to a deal that does not include branding on-site at the event, but gives Olybet visibility on Ryder Cup digital channels. The brand will appear in the fan newsletter, website and app in Europe, excluding the UK and Ireland, with the potential to remove certain other territories, including Italy.
The PGA of America has also to decide how it will approach its flagship annual property, the PGA Championship, in 2024 when a wagering partner could potentially associate with the event hosted at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.
Kentucky is due to launch regulated retail sports wagering in early September, with online to follow on later in the month. The initial seven online operators granted a service provider licence are: Bet365, BetMGM, Caesars, Circa, DraftKings, FanDuel and Penn Sports Interactive.
The impetus for a change in the PGA of America’s stance on betting partnership in the US stemmed from the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018.
In 2021, IMG Arena, the betting division of the IMG agency, acquired the official betting rights for the PGA Championship, giving it the right to distribute data and live-streaming content to betting operators worldwide. Later that year, it struck a betting data supplier deal for the Ryder Cup in a deal with the PGA of America and Ryder Cup Europe.
The inclusion of in-play betting within the services offered to punters is not without controversy. In recent weeks, former world number one Jon Rahm complained that players on the PGA Tour have been heckled to put them off their stroke in gambling-related incidents. While some of this can be attributed to informal wagering between fans out on the course, punters may also attempt to influence official in-play betting outcomes.
Luke Reissman, the PGA of America’s head of partnerships, said such activities were on the organisation’s radar. “We have not noticed that at our events in any substantial way, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen and we are conscious of it when we consider our wagering [sponsorship] future. It is one of the factors that we take into account.
“More than anything, the integrity of the game and the happiness of the players, or at least the ability for the players to perform at their best, is the number one most important thing, so we certainly wouldn’t look to do anything that would diminish that. It’s a factor that we consider in every deal that we’re thinking about.”