Before he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, Bryce Harper opened as the favorite to win the 2019 National League MVP Award.
The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened MVP and Cy Young odds Wednesday, with Harper the betting favorite at 6-1 odds. Nolan Arenado (7-1), Paul Goldschmidt (10-1) and Kris Bryant (12-1) have the next-best odds.
Harper struggled last season with the Washington Nationals, hitting only .249 and striking out a career-high 169 times. He did have 34 home runs and 100 RBIs.
“We think Harper’s favorite destination is Philadelphia,” Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook director John Murray told ESPN. “That’s a Little League park. You can imagine how many home runs he’d hit there as his home park. If he ends up going to the Dodgers, you could see the odds tweaked a bit since that’s such a pitchers’ park.
“He’s an elite player and is going to be one of the favorites for MVP for a while.”
The MLB asked the Nevada Gaming Control Board to not allow bets on spring training games. The NGCB said no.
In declining MLB’s request, the NGCB wrote, “Based on our history and experience in regulating sports wagering, we are not inclined to prohibit our licensed sports books from taking wagers on MLB Spring Training games. We have a common goal to combat sports bribery and maintain the integrity of your sport, and are available to discuss ways we can work together in this effort.”
Major League Baseball said spring training games carried “heightened integrity risks,” in part because players are not expected to give maximum effort, and that the expansion of sports betting beyond Nevada exacerbates that risk.
“Spring Training games are exhibition contests in which the primary focus of Clubs and players is to prepare for the coming season rather than to win games or perform at maximum effort on every single play. These games are not conducive to betting and carry heightened integrity risks, and states should not permit bookmakers to offer bets on them,” the league said in a statement. “Limited and historically in-person betting on Spring Training in one state did not pose nearly the same integrity risks that widespread betting on Spring Training in multiple states will pose.”
MLB will provide video of games and official real-time statistics to international sportsbook operators.
Official real-time statistics will be collected at every ballpark by MLB and distributed by Sportradar to both media companies and regulated sportsbooks, including in the U.S.
Sportradar also receives the rights to distribute live audio-visual game feeds to sportsbooks in legal jurisdictions outside the U.S. Games will be streamed on bookmakers’ websites, with overlay graphics down the left side and across the bottom of the screen displaying the different betting markets on the event that are available and giving bettors the ability to place wagers on the same screen. Sportradar has similar international rights to NBA game feeds, among other sports.
“It’s a big part of our business,” Steve Byrd, head of strategic partnerships for Sportradar, told ESPN. “We stream 40,000 matches live to bookmakers.”
A handful of states have made progress in advancing sports betting bills.
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved 6-3 a measure Tuesday that would permit most tribes to take bets on professional and amateur sporting events at the casinos they operate.
More significantly, Senate Bill 1163 also would allow each tribe to operate multiple off-site betting facilities at bars through the use of remote devices or kiosks, with the state getting a share of the amount of money wagered there. The legislation, as worded, potentially could create about 100 of these sites.
HB0001, which legalizes sports gambling in Tennessee, went before the Departments and Agencies Subcommittee on Wednesday.
“I think we have to ask the tough questions,” noted Rep. Bill Sanderson during the session. “We have to dig into these bills.”
If passed, the bill would place a 10% tax on sports gambling, which some estimate could generate around $30 million a year.
Of that money, 30% would go toward K-12 education and local infrastructure.
Senate Bill 552 would legalize sports betting, allow for a Gary casino license to move across the state, remove a cap on the number of in-state casinos a company can own and move up the date when horse racing casinos, or racinos, can use live dealers for table games.
Bill author Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, called it a “once-in-a-generation opportunity.”
Supporters of the bill, which passed in the Senate by a 38-11 vote, have been reluctant to frame the measure as an expansion of gaming, an idea some lawmakers have refrained from embracing.
Ohio lawmakers don’t seem to be in a hurry to pass sports betting legislation.
“The important thing is to get it right,” said Coley, who is president of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States. “Ohio is a large market with almost 12 million citizens. We have to make sure we fashion a law that works for everybody.”
One factor to consider: a new U.S. Department of Justice opinion on the Wire Act that could bar online gambling and as a result, some sports betting. Changes won’t take effect until April 15, leaving the gaming industry in limbo for now.
Gov. Mike DeWine has said that sports betting is coming to Ohio whether anyone likes it or not. He wants to work with lawmakers to craft solid regulations rather than wait for a ballot initiative.
“I’m not a big fan of betting, but it is a reality,” DeWine told News 5 Cleveland. “I think it’s important for Ohio to do it right.”
A poll of Iowans found most in the state did not support legalizing sports betting.
Just over half of Iowans — 52 percent — say they oppose legalizing betting on professional sporting events. Forty percent are in favor of legalization, and 9 percent aren’t sure.
And fewer Iowans feel favorably when it comes to legalizing betting on college sports. Just a quarter of Iowans — 25 percent — favor legalization, while more than two-thirds — 68 percent — are opposed. Seven percent aren’t sure.
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