Could Major League Baseball (MLB) be changing its mind on gambling? Commissioner Rob Manfred hinted to Yahoo Finance that the sport might be softening its stance.
The head of the sport talked about fans involvement in the games and how they wager. The rules on betting were set in place in 1927 and Manfred said while players were still held to those standards, expecting fans to might be unrealistic.
“There is this buzz out there in terms of people feeling that there may be an opportunity here for additional legalized sports betting,” Manfred said. “We are reexamining our stance on gambling. It’s a conversation that’s ongoing with the owners.”
Sports Betting Prevalent
Millions are bet on the nation’s pastime annually, including one fan who won nearly $2.5 million on a $100,000 wager that Kansas City would win the 2015 World Series.
Manfred recognized that money is exchanged on the sport both legally and illegally and said, “… it can be a form of fan engagement, it can fuel the popularity of a sport. We all understand that.”
Another facet of the gaming industry where money is concerned is Fantasy Sports, a billion dollar industry and sites such as Fan Duel and Draft Kings are attracting the much coveted younger fan.
“Sports betting happens,” Manfred said. “Whether it’s legalized here or not, it’s happening out there. So I think the question for sports is really, ‘Are we better off in a world where we have a nice, strong, uniform, federal regulation of gambling that protects the integrity of sports, provides sports with the tools to ensure that there is integrity in the competition … Or are we better off closing our eyes to that and letting it go on as illegal gambling? And that’s a debatable point.”
Following Other Sports
Heads of other sporting organizations are voiced their opinions about the issue and many seem in favor of legalization.
NBA Chief Adam Silver has been the most vocal on the issue, saying recently “gambling is good for business.”
The Commissioner of the PGA Tour, Jay Monahan also believes sports gambling needs to be regulated, especially with Fantasy Sports, which is where golf sees a majority of action.
“You look at DraftKings and Fan Duel, you look at gaming in the international markets, there’s a lot of opportunity there,” Monahan told Golf Channel in January. “There’s some complexity, and that complexity has held us back from moving forward, but we will look at it and have an open mind towards it.”