The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has denied DraftKings waiver request regarding its branding at three sporting locations across the state.
A universal waiver of 90 days was provided to all sports betting operators in the state following the MGC’s request for all logos and branding to include 21+ age messaging alongside advertising and logos.
The three locations that DraftKings applied for a waiver were:
- Fenway Park: The DraftKings logo is at the top of the Boston Red Sox ‘Green Monster’, the nickname given to the field wall
- TD Garden: The DK logo features prominently on the green border to the basketball court, home to the Boston Celtics
- Gillette Stadium: The DK logo is around the stadium’s sports zone, near a bar and grill location.
The company’s main argument with regards to Fenway Park and TD Garden is that the logo has been there long before sports wagering was legalized, and it’s not the DraftKings sportsbook logo.
With Fenway Park, DraftKings argues the commercial agreement is still in place, and they’ll have to revise and replace everything in that agreement.
“For those reasons we do believe that it’s related to sports wagering. We would also note that when we did receive this question from DraftKings, we also took a look at their specific sports wagering advertising and with great frequency they do use the general logo in their sports wagering advertising”
The sports betting behemoth argued that the changes to TD Garden were particularly “cost prohibitive”, suggesting it would cost “several hundreds of thousands” to have the hardwood floor in the basketball arena lifted and replaced.
DraftKings’ argument for the Gillette branding is that by changing its logo to include an age warning, it could jeopardize the sports bar and grill’s business by making potential consumers think that the venue is 21+ itself.
DK argues that the original logo, which predates the legalization of Massachusetts sports betting, applies to the DraftKings Marketplace, Daily Fantasy and Horse Racing apps and is not synonymous with the sports betting brand.
The legal team at the MGC stated the following during a lengthy meeting:
“At the top of the branding umbrella is the general logo, then underneath that there’s the variety of logos. The sportsbook logo, a DFS logo, maybe a charitable logo or other specific purposes. But at the end of the day that general DraftKings logo covers and incorporates all of its sub-units, everything that it’s doing beneath that.”
They continued: “For those reasons we do believe that it’s related to sports wagering. We would also note that when we did receive this question from DraftKings, we also took a look at their specific sports wagering advertising and with great frequency they do use the general logo in their sports wagering advertising”.
Commissioner Skinner added she recently attended a sports fixture and took a photo of the logo, with the specific intention to bring it to the Gaming Commission to discuss. Commissioner O’Brien added that she expected the waiver request was around timing of implementation, not so much around whether it would be applicable.
It is likely that the waiver will be extended for DraftKings, but purely for implementation purposes.