Major League Baseball (MLB) players will be allowed to endorse private sportsbooks once Ontario’s new licensed and regulated online gaming market is open on April 4.
The newly ratified Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) addressed the continuing wave of legalized sports betting across North America and will seek to build new revenue streams directly linked to gambling.
While MLB players will still be strictly and expressly forbidden from wagering on games themselves, the new CBA permits them to enter into promotional and endorsement contracts with legal betting sites.
Any endorsement deal would have to be approved by the league, cannot be negotiated by the team itself, and “would be subject to various limitations and restrictions”, according to Play Ontario.
Previously, only former MLB players had been free to sign endorsement deals with gambling companies.
That leaves licensed sportsbooks in Ontario, from big names like FanDuel and theScore Bet to new players such as NorthStar Gaming, free to sign up Toronto Blue Jays stars to help them stand out in a saturated field. That approach has already been notable in the NHL, where one high-profile example has seen Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid become an official ambassador for BetMGM.
Official associations with sports stars could be a key method of securing market share for operators, who are not allowed to use sign-up offers or bonuses as a carrot on a stick in their advertising to consumers in accordance with the AGCO’s regulations.
Ontario’s market launches on April 4, just four days before the Blue Jays’ home opener. The team has yet to announce an official sportsbook partner, and a potential partnership could be extremely mutually beneficial, with the Jays’ 162-game, six-month regular-season broadcast coast-to-coast in Canada.