For those who like to bet on men’s professional golf, this week in many states the option was between one tournament that had no player in the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings and another with a “Who’s Who” of present-day golfers.
Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, and Sergio Garcia are playing in one event, while Webb Simpson, Maverick McNealy, Adam Hadwin, Sahith Theegala, and Denny McCarthy are teeing up in the other.
But if you live in New Jersey, a mecca of sports betting, you only could bet on the latter players in the PGA’s ironically named John Deere Classic — with most of the PGA Tour’s top players presumably sending a “Deere John” letter explaining why they are taking the week off. The big names above, meanwhile, are playing in Portland, Oregon, in an event on the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Tour.
A spokesman for the New Jersey Attorney General’s office, which oversees regulators for the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement, said only that “the Division has not approved wagering on The LIV Golf Tour at this time.”
It’s worth noting that wagering on Monday’s Nathan’s Famous Competitive Hot Dog Eating contest has been deemed kosher in the Garden State, as has betting on sporting events such as snooker, lawn bowling, darts, badminton, bull riding, handball, and sailing.
Is LIV a serious event?
New Jersey regulators also did not approve of wagering for a “Team USA vs. Team Rest of the World” event at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City that’s being held on Thursday and Friday. The 12-on-12 exhibition features celebrities such as Michael Strahan, Oscar De La Hoya, Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Phelps, Michael Vick, Canelo Alvarez, and Harry Kane.
That event may or may not feature serious competition. The LIV Tour, however, is offering $4 million to the winner of the Portland event — nearly $1 million more than Matthew Fitzpatrick earned for winning the U.S. Open. The winner among the 12 teams in the LIV format, meanwhile, will share $3 million — nearly a PGA Tour equivalent of a second-place finish for each player on the title team.
The John Deere individual winner will take home a relatively modest $1.3 million.
Curious to see how your LIV betting handle stacks up against PGA Tour this week!
— Kris Johnson (@krisdanjohnson) June 29, 2022
Gamblers can LIV it up elsewhere
DraftKings, overall a market stalwart in New Jersey, is offering LIV Tour wagers in Oregon, Illinois, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Arizona, Wyoming, and in the province of Ontario. So New Jerseyans can’t just cross the border into Pennsylvania or New York to make LIV bets, either.
There may be some pressure on New Jersey regulators next month, though, when the LIV Tour comes to Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster on July 29-31. Fans attending an event in a bet-savvy state like New Jersey no doubt will expect to be able to wager early and often on it.
By then, regulators presumably will have figured out that few things define a credible, wager-worthy event as much as the amount of money on the table — particularly in such an independent-contractor sport like golf.
Photo: John David Mercer/USA TODAY