MLB Commissioner Shifts Responsibility For The Sport’s Embracing Of Legal Sports Betting

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has said that the league was “dragged” into embracing the world of legal sports betting. [Image:]

Big business Many MLB ballparks these days are covered in sportsbook logos, promoting legal platforms that are up and running now in 30 states. Broadcasts of games often showcase the latest odds and run commercials for the leading operators. Some teams even have retail sportsbooks on-site for fans to enjoy on game day.

Despite many franchises embracing legal sports betting, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that the league was “dragged” into the gambling space. The organization took legal action together with other major sports leagues before the ending of the federal ban in May 2018 to try to keep the restriction in place. One of the main concerns at the time was protecting the integrity of games.

MLB soon began letting teams strike deals with sportsbooks

It was only after the Supreme Court voted in favor of allowing each individual state to decide if it would allow sports betting that the leagues started catering to the sector. MLB soon began letting teams strike deals with sportsbooks and it entered into its own agreements with DraftKings and FanDuel.

Some positives Manfred made his comments while speaking at this year’s renewal of the Associated Press Sports Editors Commissioners Meetings. At the event, leaders of the major North American sports leagues come together to talk about key issues.

According to research from GlobalData, the average total value of a new deal between an MLB team and a betting partner is $8.7m, which is higher than in the NFL, NBA, and NHL.

It was when the topic turned to some recent betting scandals, such as the interpreter of Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani stealing millions from Ohtani to fund illegal wagering, that Manfred reminded people about the MLB’s previous opposition to legalizing betting.

Despite this stance, he did acknowledge that one of the advantages of having a legal framework is that it makes it “a heck of a lot easier to monitor what’s going on than it is with an illegal operation.” He also spoke about how the number of people tuning into broadcasts is on the rise thanks to the influence of betting.

Keeping a close eye Manfred went on to highlight concerns about player prop bets, saying that the league opposes these types of markets. Manfred noted that lower profile players might be convinced to take certain actions during a game that could go unnoticed to gain financially.

MLB has not discovered any of its own athletes engaging in match-fixing

Unlike other sports organizations, the MLB has not discovered any of its own athletes engaging in match-fixing to date. The NCAA called on state regulators in March to completely ban individual player prop bets following a number of concerning incidents.

Legal sportsbook operators closely monitor betting for any suspicious activity, reporting any red flags to independent monitoring organizations and sports leagues for further investigation. This is how the NBA discovered that the Toronto Raptors’ Jontay Porter was manipulating his participation for betting purposes. The MLB also employs its own full-time compliance and integrity team.