The use of pitch clocks does not concern the league in terms of potentially limiting live MLB betting opportunities, an MLB official told LSR.
“I don’t think it’s going to have any negative consequences,” MLB senior VP of business development Casey Brett told LSR at the iGaming Next Conference this month.
“If anything, I think the pitch clock is only going to improve wagering and the overall fan experience.”
Pitch clock equals shorter games
This MLB betting season, pitchers will have 15 seconds to throw a pitch with no one on base, and 20 seconds with runners aboard.
Hitters must be in the batter’s box with eight seconds remaining on the pitch clock.
During spring training, games have averaged 2 hours, 35 minutes. Last year, they averaged 3 hours, 7 minutes during the regular season.
Casual fan greater than casual bettor
Brett discussed MLB’s concern that games were not moving quickly enough:
“I think, first and foremost for us, is creating a good entertainment product for all fans, and the pitch clock is critical for that. The game was moving a little slow. It’s a great opportunity for us to engage the entire fan base, and make that game more attractive.
“Are we concerned about the impact on in-play betting? I think there’s still plenty of time. If you watch a game now, there are still plenty of seconds, our data is just as fast. I think there will still be plenty of product innovation in in-play markets.
“I consider it to be good based on the fact that people still want to watch the game now, and they’ll continue to do in-play wagering.”
MLB betting goes mainstream
Wagering has become mainstream in baseball, where ads have filled ballparks. Some of those stadiums feature in-person sports betting kiosks.
Integrity concerns dominated discussion for decades, yet now teams are more comfortable while benefiting financially from sports betting partnership deals.
FanDuel and BetMGM are considered “co-exclusive” partners of MLB. As part of its deal, FanDuel can stream MLB.TV’s “Free Game of the Day” through its sportsbook app.
YES Network partnera with SimpleBet on a single-screen, free-to-play prediction game available on its app for New York Yankees games. It has essentially felt like a spring training of sorts for an eventual real-money betting product.
Issues with in-play MLB betting
Still, there are in-play latency issues to contend with and the timeframe is shorter to place wagers with the new rules. Plus, MLB has concerns surrounding possible nefarious activity.
“We love what they’re doing,” Brett said of SimpleBet. “I think we have concerns related to true micro bets, that a single actor can kind of manipulate the market in and of itself, which is somewhat concerning to us. But we’re policing it, we’ve got eyes on it. I think we do want more innovation with the in-play market experience, which is great. So we love that someone keeps pushing the envelope. And the media partners are interested in it.
“But it remains to be seen. We’re taking a ‘crawl, walk, run’ approach to this whole thing. We’re being cautious because we want it to be something that in-play betting is presented to fans in the right way, that it’s a safe and responsible form of wagering, and that’s what we’re focused on.
“We have a good relationship with SimpleBet, and we obviously have close relationships with all the RSNs and the clubs, so it’s just something we work with each of them to kind of explore it, test it, see how it’s performing and then we’ll consider expansion and future innovation.”
MLB betting a delicate balancing act
During a panel discussion, Brett said MLB’s aging fan base has made sports betting and fantasy business opportunities critical. Yet a proper balance needs to be struck.
“As the audience grows, we want to serve those fans and we want to serve them in the right way. That’s our focus,” Brett said.
“It’s important for us to tell interesting stories and make it interesting both from the general fan perspective and for someone that wants to wager on the sport.”