DraftKings came to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) this week hoping to be granted an exception on the state’s new regulation involving logo displays at major sports arenas. It came away from Thursday’s meeting with no exception and a clear expectation from the commissioners that logos at Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, and TD Garden will need to change.
That could be a very costly endeavor for DraftKings.
DraftKings says TD Garden update will cost “several hundred thousand”
In its waiver application, DraftKings claimed that updating the embedded logo on the wooden floor of the Boston Celtics basketball court at TD Arena would be prohibitively expensive, stating, “the projected cost to update this asset is several hundred thousand dollars, which would be a substantial hardship.”
The operator also argued that the umbrella DraftKings brand is designed to encompass products beyond just sports betting, including DFS, DK Horse, and DK Network. In fact, the embedded logo in the court was part of a deal the group signed with the Celtics years before sports betting was even legalized in the state.
MGC legal opinion is parent logo is tied to sports betting
However, the legal team at MGC did not agree with this interpretation. While it is just a legal opinion put forth by counsel and not binding, the group feels the umbrella brand is tied enough to sports betting to need the disclaimer.
“We think about it as an umbrella,” MGC counsel Caitlin Monahan said regarding the parent logo and its sub-logos and brands. “At the top of the umbrella is the general logo and they can use that for any number of things. Then underneath that, there are a variety of logos…at the end of the day that general DraftKings logo covers and incorporates all of its sub-units.”
Monahan also noted that DraftKings regularly used the master logo in its sportsbook advertising. Given the interpretation and the company’s use of the logo, the legal team and, in turn, the commissioners, were not swayed by the argument that there was ample signage in these venues that the sportsbook product is 21+.
DraftKings has until Oct. 2 to respond
MGC did grant an extension of the temporary waiver, moving its expiration from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2, the last day of the Boston Red Sox’s season. The extension gives DraftKings time to solve the Fenway Park issues and also provide the commission with more information about TD Garden and Gilette Stadium.
The commissioners acknowledged the potential cost of updating something like the floor and said they were open to discussing a continuance of the waiver to coincide with something like when the floor assets are created to help alleviate costs but they were adamantly opposed to an exception to the rule. What they would like by Oct. 2 is some sense of timing on how long it will take to execute the update.
Gilette Stadium is a different situation. At the stadium, DraftKings has a “DraftKings Sports Zone Bar and Grill” which is open to all ages. There is concern a 21+ logo could create confusion about who may enter. The commissioners asked for more information regarding the exact signage at the venue before reaching a decision.
Could a casino logo rule be on the horizon?
While other operators requested a waiver to provide time to make changes to logos when the rule was passed in July, no other operators have filed a petition for additional waivers related to the rule. Given that DraftKings’s corporate offices are located in Boston, MA, the company does have more of a presence than some competitors in the state.
MGM Springfield and Encore Boston Harbor could be facing similar dilemmas in the future though. During deliberations, Commission Nakisha Skinner observed that there was Encore Boston Harbor signage in the same line of sight as the DraftKings logo in question and suggested the commission should consider adopting a similar rule for casinos in the future.