An active Major League Baseball (MLB) player will officially endorse a North American bookmaker for the first time, as MaximBet has signed up Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon.
ESPN reports the four-time All-Star will serve as a brand ambassador via marketing campaigns, promotions, social media content, and fan events for the online sportsbook, which is an offshoot of the lifestyle brand Maxim and currently operates only in Colorado, albeit with plans to expand into Iowa and Indiana. It also has market access in New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, as well as the nascent regulated market in Ontario.
This is the first such deal struck by an MLB player after the latest collective bargaining agreement signed earlier in 2022 granted permission to active players to sign with sportsbooks in jurisdictions where wagering on sports is legal, as long as they do not promote betting on baseball specifically. Prior to that amendment, marketing and sponsorship deals with sportsbooks were restricted to leagues and teams entities.
The deal between Blackmon and MaximBet is the latest example of the confluence of MLB representatives and legal sports betting in North America.
In Canada, the biggest announcement so far has come in the form of a 10-year exclusive partnership between the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto-based sportsbook theScore Bet that saw the brand become the sole Canadian MLB franchise’s first gaming partner.
In a recent interview on SportsCenter, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred noted that the league sees legal sports betting “primarily as a form of increasing fan engagement”.
Sports and betting are becoming intrinsically linked, and it is not just MLB that has been hitching its wagon to sportsbooks and sports stars.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s PROLINE sportsbook, for example, has become an official sportsbook partner of both the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Football League (NFL) in Canada, and the NHL has also linked up with private sportsbook operators FanDuel and BetMGM.
Meanwhile, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), the owner of the Toronto Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto FC, and Toronto Argonauts sports franchises, has signed deals with Flutter’s FanDuel and PokerStars as well as PointsBet Canada.
And in March, Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid became the first active major-league star to partner with a sportsbook by signing an ambassadorial deal with BetMGM.