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His comments may of been his strongest words yet about the possibility of legalization in the US. Currently, wagering only takes place legally in Nevada.
Manfred was appearing on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike, a day after the MLB season began. As it has in many of Manfred’s recent interviews, sports betting came up:
Mike Greenberg: The other thing that has come up in a big way in the last week or so with the NFL’s pending move to Las Vegas, is the issue of sports gambling and the potential for it being legalized in this country. [NBA Commissioner] Adam Silver has talked in what I consider to be a very progressive way about that of late. What is your stance and what is the stance of Major League Baseball about the possibility of legalization of sports gambling going forward?
Manfred: I think Adam has done a nice job of making people aware that the landscape on sports gambling is changing around us, has changed dramatically. And in part in response to his comments but in response to just general developments in the area, we’ve begun a conversation with the owners. It’s educational at the begging, in the sense in that sports gambling has changed a lot. I mean, you know the old division of betting illegally with a bookie somewhere is not today’s world.
We’ve begun a conversation educating people about what’s out there, what sports leagues in other countries have done, in an effort to make sure Major League Baseball is ready to join in what I think is going to be a dialogue about how sports gambling regulation in the United States should be changed.
Mike Golic: You know NFL is going to be there, the NHL is there as well. Do you think owners would approve of a team ever playing in Las Vegas?
Manfred: The answer lies in what I just said. Gambling now — you can bet on sports wherever you are, any time of day we all know that. I think as a result of that, no one in baseball feels that Las Vegas is somehow disqualified because of the gaming industry being there.
You can listen to the entire Manfred interview here.
What Manfred said on Monday morning is an escalation of things he has said just in the past two months:
All of it adds up to a concerted effort by Manfred to continue to slowly move MLB off of its long-held position that sports betting should simply be illegal.
Things continue to change with other leagues, as well: