MLS Commissioner talks Facebook deal and opens up regarding regulated gambling

As Major League Soccer opened its season earlier this month and with it came news from MLS Commissioner Don Garber that he would not be opposed to legalized gambling.

Speaking at SXSW in Austin, Texas, Geekwire was able to catch up with him.  Garber spoke at Geekwire’s Sports Tech Summit last summer.

Via Geekwire:

“We have a project going on now to really dig in deeply and understand it. I’ll be the third commissioner (along with NBA’s Adam Silver and MLB’s Rob Manfred) in and say I’m very open to understanding how we can get more engaged in this market in a way that I think if done properly, can be regulated and managed and controlled. I’ll join the chorus of saying it’s time to bring it out of the dark ages. We’re doing what we can to figure out how to manage that effectively.”

In addition to this news that the MLS will be open to hearing about the possiblility of regulated gambling of its sports, he announced a Facebook streaming deal which will expand its reach across an untapped platform.  The MLS will be the first league with an extended package on Facebook.

Embracing new ideas and technology are two characteristics new to leagues.  The opportunity to engage with as many fans as possible is key as well as monetizing them.

College baseball players ruled ineligible for participating in fantasy football

ESPN reports that 5 Richmond University baseball players have been ruled ineligible by the NCAA due to their involvement in fantasy sports.

The university, through the athletic department, decline to offer further comment.

Per ESPN, the NCAA considers fantasy sports contests with an entry fee to be a form of sports wagering and therefore off-limits to student-athletes, regardless of sports.

In the state of Virginia fantasy sports, including Daily Fantasy Sports, are legal.

According to the original report from the Richmond Times Dispatch, the players were involved in Fantasy Football.  However, there is no detail as to whether it was Daily Fantasy Sports are a regular weekly fantasy football league.

While the amounts that the players were playing for were not disclosed, the overarching issue was the players involved in fantasy sports.

Kentucky Bill to legalize DFS falls by 1 vote

A bill to legalize Daily Fantasy Sports in the state of Kentucky has failed in the state’s General Assembly.

Similar to other DFS bills across the country, the bill would define DFS as a game requiring skill rather than luck.  It would also require a DFS operator to register with the state.

The bill fell on the House floor by just one vote, 37-36

H/t: Sara Friedman

NBA Commissioner praises esports tourney winners

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told reporters that eSports players are a “different kind of athlete.”

Commissioner Silver’s comments came during NBA’s All-Star weekend.  The league recently announced an eSports league to coincide with the NBA.

NBA players made a guest appearance at the 2K17 All-Star Tournament in New Orleans to face off against a five-man team named “Still Trill” that had just won the video game’s tournament championship.

Still Trill won a $250,000 prize for the championship as well as getting to meet the likes of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

H/t: Sports Techie

Online Poker Bill moves on in New York

Earlier this week, a New York Senate committee unanimously passed an online poker bill in another effort to legalize it in the state.

The Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee voted unanimously to move the bill along to the Assembly.

The bill authorizes the New York State Gaming Commission to issue 11 online poker licenses to casinos and tribal casinos.

Madden NFL 17 champ docked $3K of prize money for inappropriate social media posts

EA, makers of Madden NFL 17, have docked the prize winnings of Chris “Dubby” McFarland after he failed to comply with their requests to refrain from derogatory comments made on his social media account.

According to an EA release, his posts were “referenced inappropriate content.”  It violated EA’s Code of Conduct.  EA met with McFarland and was warned of the inappropriate posts.  Yet, he continued and was subsequently docked $3,000 from his grand prize winnings of $75,000.

Notably, the release does not mention the withholding as a fine.  Yet, it was due to a violation of a Code of Conduct.

The $3,000 fine is small and less than 10% of the $75,000 prize.  Should EA have gone farther or was the small deduction a warning for future players?

MLB re-thinking stance on gambling regulation

Yahoo Finance reports that Major League Baseball is re-examining its stance on gambling according to commissioner Rob Manfred.

Manfred indicated at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit that MLB was “monitoring the issue and re-thinking pro baseball’s long-held stance on the issue.”

The call for possible federal regulation falls in line with the NBA’s Adam Silver opining a sentiment on behalf of the league he oversees.

Baseball’s commissioner noted that it can be a way of “fan engagement” and “fuel the popularity of the sport.”

He recognized that sports gambling, including baseball, will happen whether or not there is regulation and it’s something that the league will consider moving forward.

The obvious questions loom about regulation which would help retain integrity of the sport while also providing a stream of revenue for the league.  But the question of the vice of gambling as well as the perception of the sanctity of the game will be considered as opposing viewpoints.

Esports comes to the NBA as it announces 2K league

ESPN reports that the NBA and Take Two Interactive have joined forced to create an eSports League based on the NBA 2K series.

Its anticipated that each of the NBA teams will eventually have a team in this newly developed league.  The teams will consist of 5 individuals playing out a 5-month season.  The league is scheduled to begin in 2018.  The teams will play head-to-head and have playoffs leading up to a championship.

via Wikimedia Commons


The NBA will hold an initial draft of esports players, and each NBA franchise will pick five to play as its eLeague team. They will draw salaries, train and essentially treat the NBA 2K eLeague as full-time jobs during the season.

It’s clear that this is the next step for esports to become more mainstream.  The NBA investment in this league is likely substantial with the prospects of it becoming a lucrative stream of revenue for the league.  The report indicates that they will hold events to promote the league, sign sponsorships, sell tickets and produce merchandise.

Perhaps the only drawback for those into the realism of the video games, is that real-life players will not be represented in the games.  Players will come up with their own avatars.  Perhaps the inability to use NBA players likenesses is an issue that has yet to be discussed between the league and the players union.

Kobe Bryant protects “The Black Mamba” Trademark

Via my post on Seattle Copyright and Trademark:

Attorneys on behalf of Kobe Bryant have filed a Notice of Opposition against a Los Angeles company over the application to use The Black Mamba.

The company, 47/72, Inc., has until March 12th to file an answer.

The Notice of Opposition filed on January 31st claims that the intent to use the retired Lakers’ longtime nickname would cause a likelihood of confusion, false suggestion of a connection and the name consists of the name of a living individual without his consent.

The applicant filed an “intent to use” application (had not used the mark but intended to do so in the future) less than a week after Bryant’s last game in the NBA.  The intent was to apparently sell clothing online.  According to the Notice of Opposition the company has attempted to trademark famous phrases for its own benefit.  Examples include “To Infinity and Beyond,” “Let it Go,” and “Nanu Nanu.”

Bryant’s attorneys had filed a Letter of Protest in May 2016 which was forwarded to the Examining Attorney.  The applicant mark was opposed after it was published for opposition.  Bryant’s attorneys requested and received an extension to file its opposition.

The case reflects the vigilance it takes to protect an existing trademark.  It will also be an interesting case to see how the USPTO looks at this issue if the applicants decide to pursue the mark.