Major League Baseball is officially in the gambling business. The league announced Tuesday it had partnered with MGM Resorts International, the third major professional sports league in the U.S. to go into business with the company. But unlike the ...and more »
Major League Baseball is officially in the gambling business.
The league announced Tuesday it had partnered with MGM Resorts International, the third major professional sports league in the U.S. to go into business with the company.
But unlike the other sports, the NBA and NHL, MLB has a more sordid history with gambling, from the Pete Rose scandal all the way back to the Black Sox nearly a century ago.
It’s a legacy MLB commissioner Rob Manfred admitted he gave thought to before finalizing the partnership.
“Over the past 18 months, we’ve had various senior people in the office involved in various aspects of the sports gaming project,’’ Manfred said during a press conference at MLB headquarters in Midtown. “I think we have ensured ourselves on the integrity front by updating our policies, making clear what employees can and cannot do on the one hand. And on the other hand, developing clear guidelines for the commercial activity that central baseball — meaning Major League Baseball — will engage in and similarly, the kind of commercial activities that will be allowed on the club level, as well. It’s more than making a business deal. It’s having in place a set of policies for the industry that give us comfort on what is always our most important issue and that is integrity.”
Asked what specific policies had been updated, Manfred said they were still being finalized, but teams were made aware of the “contours” of the changes during the owners’ meetings in Atlanta this month. Current rules prohibit players, umpires and team and league employees from betting on MLB games.
Whatever concerns the league may have had with going down this road were outweighed by the changing dynamics of betting, especially since the Supreme Court opened up sports gambling in states throughout the country with a ruling in May.
“There has been a huge change in public opinion and the whole legal framework surrounding sports gaming and I think it has presented an opportunity for all sports and baseball in particular,” Manfred said. “Our research is really strong on the idea that sports gaming is an important source of fan engagement and we operate in a competitive environment and we have to take advantage of every opportunity to drive engagement by our fans.”
With the agreement, MGM will have access to MLB’s official statistics feed and some enhanced stats, exclusively.
Manfred also said MGM will have a “presence” at events such as the World Series and the All-Star Game.
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