The long push-and-pull of the legalization of gambling in sports has left a bit of a hole in whether the industry will ever embrace the issue. There has been a bit more of a spotlight on the subject, however.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred recently confirmed that he is monitoring the “issue” and re-examining stance on legalized sports betting, according to Yahoo Finance.
“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 in an interview with Yahoo Finance. “We are reexamining our stance on gambling. It’s a conversation that’s ongoing with the owners.”
Manfred adds to the conversation that fans betting on baseball could “be a form of fan engagement, it can fuel the popularity of a sport. We all understand that.” He then went on to explain that sports betting does indeed happen whether it’s legalized or not.
“It’s happening out there,” said Manfred. “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.”
This could easily turn into a debate on former players being voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame or the legalization of daily fantasy sports, but that’s another article.
It also comes on the heels of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver continuing to push for legalized sports gambling on a consistent basis (more on that here).
It’s shown one of Manfred’s many objections as the commissioner besides “pace of play,” is to bring more fan engagement into a sport that has been slowly creeping towards demise when it comes to spectator support. This could be a positive way to bring more than the casual fan into the sport, but there are so many more questions to be asked and research to be done.