In a series of interviews this week, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said that he sees both opportunities and challenges when it comes to the expansion of sports betting that is currently happening across the United States.

Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred embarked on a press initiative this week, addressing the latest on how he sees MLB evolving in a world with sports betting. (Image:

Manfred’s comments were generally positive towards how sports betting could improve engagement for baseball fans, though he shared some concerns about the potential for places where the industry might go too far.

Manfred Wants to Avoid DFS Mistakes

Manfred appeared on the Dan Patrick Show on Tuesday, discussing the MLB position on sports betting and some of his personal views on the positives and negatives that will comes with more states regulating such wagers.

“Fan engagement can be improved through gaming,” Manfred said. “You want to take advantage of that opportunity without letting gaming become too intrusive. Gaming can go over the top. You kind of saw that with the DraftKings and FanDuel advertising wars as an example.”

That comment referenced the onslaught of ads television viewers saw for the daily fantasy sports sites during the 2015 NFL season. While both companies felt compelled to spend as much as possible on advertising in order to attract new players, the massive ad campaigns annoyed viewers who weren’t interested, and may have played a role in state regulators turning their attention to the industry.

One area in which Manfred isn’t afraid of overreaching is in what could be available in the ballpark for bettors. When Patrick asked the commissioner whether or not bets could be placed live at games, Manfred was decisive in his response.

“That is the easiest answer in gaming, because all of this gaming is going to be mobile,” Manfred responded. “The fact of the matter is you’re going to be able to do that on your phone whether you’re in or out of the ballpark.”

MLB Will Maintain Responsibility for Integrity

Those comments came on the same day that Manfred spoke at the National Press Club, where the topic once again turned to baseball’s stance on sports betting. There, the commission spokes on the potential challenges of maintaining the integrity of his sport.

“We will never delegate responsibility for those integrity issues to state regulators, whatever their expertise in the gambling area may be,” he said. “We have our own expertise and no one is more motivated than the commissioner’s office of baseball to make sure that there is no threat to the integrity of our sport.”

That may have been a subtle nod integrity fees, essentially saying that the sport itself would have to police the fairness of its competition – and that it would need funds to do so. Manfred went on to say that this would be the case no matter what level of government ultimately oversees the sports betting industry.

“The challenge for us is to make sure that whether it’s a uniform federal scheme – which we think would be the best, certainly the easiest to operate in – or 50 state schemes, those laws develop in a way that allows us to protect the integrity of the sport,” he said.