On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission unanimously rejected DraftKings' application to add LIV Golf events to the state's betting catalog. The proposal came ahead of an expected merger between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour in 2024.
All five commissioners mentioned a handful of reasons for shooting down the application and maintaining the status quo, including a U.S. Department of Justice antitrust review of the proposed merger between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. They also referenced LIV Golf's financial support from the government of Saudi Arabia, which has faced allegations of numerous human rights violations, as reported by the WBUR.
"For a lot of the reasons that are in the press in terms of the financial backing of the LIV league, to me, I'd feel uncomfortable putting this in our catalog, even as a LIV free-standing [option], notwithstanding the DOJ investigation of the merger," said Commissioner Eileen O'Brien.
For his part, Commissioner Brad Hill added: "I, too, am not comfortable putting this in our catalog right now with all the controversy that surrounds it."
DraftKings told regulators it did not inform LIV Golf about its attempts to accept bets on the league in Massachusetts because it already allows gambling on it in other states.
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is allowed to revisit its decision on LIV Golf at any time and will be able to revisit it once again if the merger with the PGA Tour goes through next year, local media reported.
After being locked in a bitter dispute for over a year that involved player defections and a slew of lawsuits, both the PGA Tour and LIV Golf agreed to a merger back in early June that dropped all litigation and will create a new for-profit entity moving forward.
On Saturday, former AT&T executive Randall Stephenson resigned from his position on the PGA Tour’s policy board, stressing his "serious concerns" regarding the tour’s expected merger with the Saudi-affiliated LIV Golf.