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MLS lifts restrictions on liquor, sports betting partnerships

Major League Soccer has altered its commercial guidelines to allow its clubs to secure jersey and stadium naming-rights sponsorships with sports betting and liquor companies.

In a significant loosening of restrictions in these categories, clubs will be allowed to establish in-stadium sports betting kiosks where permitted by state laws, in conjunction with a licensed operator. They are also permitted to create “ancillary programming around sports betting” such as shows that discuss betting odds. The changes take effect immediately.

The move follows MLS’s sports betting partnership with MGM Resorts earlier this year.

According to Front Office Sports, the New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union have already discussed naming rights deals with sports betting companies while DC United is looking to create a sports betting facility at Audi Field.

“We want to be viewed as a progressive league, and provide our clubs with an appropriate level of flexibility,” Carter Ladd, the MLS senior vice president of business development, told Fortune. “We don’t want to be restrictive; we want to enable them in a positive way, and that’s why we’re taking this action…We strongly believe this is going to help drive new revenues.”

The league wants to ensure such commercial partnerships will be directed towards an “age-appropriate audience” by prohibiting sports betting and liquor sponsors on replica jerseys for children as well as on the uniforms worn by clubs’ youth teams. MLS players under the age of 21 will also be barred from any alcohol-related advertising or content.

The move is likely to benefit MLS’s new jersey sleeve sponsorships, which take effect next season.

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