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The latest? He said Las Vegas — the only place where single-game sports wagering is legal in the US — is a “viable market” for MLB. He also dismissed the idea that the presence of sports betting would affect whether MLB would put a franchise there.
Here’s exactly what Manfred said, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
“Las Vegas could be a viable market for us,” Manfred said during his Cactus League news conference in Phoenix. “… I don’t think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city.”
Of course, MLB is not actively looking to expand, or move a franchise — to Las Vegas or anywhere else.
Still, Manfred’s comments appear to be telling. He could simply have chosen not to say much of anything about Las Vegas. Instead, he chose to say something positive.
Those comments come shortly after Manfred also said MLB is “reexamining our stance on gambling.”
Given the league’s sordid history with sports betting — including Pete Rose betting on games while playing for and managing the Cincinnati Reds — the softening stance is welcome for proponents of legal sports betting.
MLB, of course, isn’t the only major North American pro sports league with an eye on Vegas. The NHL will launch a franchise there in 2017. The Oakland Raiders in the NFL have been involved in discussions to move their team there.
The NBA, while not actively flirting with the idea of putting a franchise in Las Vegas, is for regulated sports betting, per commissioner Adam Silver. Should the opportunity arise, it would be unlikely the NBA would balk at putting a team in the city.
As many point out, the idea that pro sports leagues would consider putting team in Las Vegas a decade ago would have seemed far-fetched. Now it’s a reality for one league and an increasing possibility for others.
Image: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred