MLB pulled a 180 on sports betting and has partnered with MGM.
For generations, baseball’s leadership has viewed gambling as the sport’s boogeyman, a threat to the integrity of the game that must be stamped out. If the lifetime bans meted out after the Black Sox scandal in 1919 and to Pete Rose in 1989 were not reminders enough, then there are the warnings posted in every major league clubhouse.
So, when Major League Baseball announced an agreement on Tuesday with MGM Resorts as the sport’s first gambling industry partner, it signaled again just how furiously sports are rushing to embrace the industry since the Supreme Court effectively struck down a federal law earlier this year that had served to ban sports betting in most states.
Baseball’s agreement comes after the N.B.A. and the N.H.L. also reached deals with MGM since July. It allows MGM to promote its gambling options on platforms like MLB Network, MLB.com and the MLB At Bat app.
Commissioner Rob Manfred viewed the arrangement as a long-term partnership that he hoped would reverse a troubling trend: declining attendance.
Legal sports betting has arrived in Rhode Island.
The state of Rhode Island, once the epicenter of mob-controlled bookmaking operations across New England, made its first foray into legal sports betting on Monday.
The much-hyped launch of Sportsbook at Twin River, the only legal sports betting operation northeast of New York, happened just after 3 p.m. and was firmly embraced by a crowd of gambling sports fans, from 27-year-old Jonathan Bigos of Norwood, Massachusetts, to a couple of locals: House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio.
Connecticut is worried about falling behind their neighboring state.
A major factor in whether Connecticut approves sports betting, and how quickly, will be the views of the flood of freshmen legislators in both the House and Senate.
State Rep. Maria Horn, a newly elected Litchfield County Democrat who is a former federal prosecutor, said she is open-minded on the issue.
“I do not have strong feelings on sports betting, other than that the state is making money off another habit,’’ Horn said. “On the other hand, sports betting is going on in every bar in this state. It’s already a thing.’’
Legal sports betting in Pennsylvania is slowly expanding.
Dauphin County’s Hollywood Casino was the first to hold sports bets. Gaming Control Board Spokesman Richard McGarvey said the casino’s test days were quiet due to a snowstorm, but the official launch went well.
He said next on the agenda are tests for four casinos that have applied for sports betting licenses.
“We haven’t set dates for their tests yet, but I would expect them to come within the next few weeks to the end of the month or so,” he said.
The other casinos are Sugarhouse, Harrah’s and Parx in Philadelphia, and Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh.
Washington, D.C. removed the integrity fee from its proposed sports betting bill.
During a Wednesday hearing in the District of Columbia Council, language trading a “royalty fee” for the use of official league data was taken out of an active sports betting bill. The Committee on Finance and Revenue rejected the proposed amendment from sponsor and Chairman Jack Evans by a unanimous verbal vote.
Curiously, it seems the leagues themselves provided the spark for removal.
Missouri legislators could act on sports betting soon.
“I certainly anticipate it being out there for discussion before the House and the Senate,” said Rep. Dean Plocher, R-Des Peres, who sponsored legislation last spring that did not advance in either chamber.
Plocher said multiple drafts of legislation have been circulating since the high court issued its decision.
“Let’s be honest, the Supreme Court let the cat out of the bag on that one,” Plocher said. “There might as well be some continuity to it in how it’s regulated and enforced.”
Virginia lawmakers are also looking to make a move on sports betting.
State Sen. Chap Petersen and Del. Mark D. Sickles, both Fairfax Democrats, announced last week that they were filing separate bills to legalize betting on professional sports. Both measures would exclude college sports.
There are significant differences between the two plans, in terms of where bets could be placed and how the state would spend resulting tax revenue. But both are premised on the notion that the high court’s ruling has made sports betting inevitable in neighboring states, so Virginia ought to get in on it.
“States are moving in that direction,” Petersen said. “It’s a reality.”
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear is pushing for legalized sports betting in his state.
In a recent letter to state legislators, Attorney General Andy Beshear called for lawmakers to pass an expanded gambling bill that includes legal sports betting.
“The solution is not to cut legally promised benefits but to create a new dedicated stream of revenue solely for pensions,” Beshear wrote. “The answer is simple – expanded gaming.”
Indiana lawmakers have a few details to work out before passing a sports betting bill.
Will people be able to gamble from a phone app or have to actually go to a casino? What types of bets will be available? How will betting be taxed? Will professional sports leagues get a cut of the action?
The regulation of sports gambling has been around a long time, the head of the Casino Association of Indiana recently told lawmakers.
“As I learned, the first sports gaming laws actually date to the Roman Empire, where wagers were placed on chariot races, horses and athletic combat,” Matt Bell said.
Despite the thousands of years of precedent, sports gambling regulations are not so simple to establish in Indiana or elsewhere.
Action Network has hired ESPN’s Darren Rovell.
If sports gambling is going to sweep the country, Darren Rovell wants a piece of it.
The longtime ESPN sports business reporter has officially left the cable giant to join the Action Network, a start-up media company focused on sports gambling. His first day at Action is Monday, where his title will be senior executive producer.
“ESPN does a great job covering gambling, but winners in spaces today are the ones in the niches, not generalists,” Rovell said in an interview. “People aspire to go to organizations that are specialists. You feel good watching CNBC because all they do is business. All Action does is gambling.”
ESPN let Rovell out of his contract early to join Action. His departure comes during the same week that Rhode Island became the eighth state to accept sports wagers and on the heels of a report that nearly $600 million was wagered in New Jersey in four-plus months of legalized sports gambling.
* * *
Each Friday, we’ll comb through as many articles, tweets and podcasts as we can find related to the world of sports betting and daily fantasy sports, and publish the good stuff here.
Stumble upon something you think we should include? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.