Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred indicated that he wants his league to be prepared for talking about the future of regulated sports betting in an interview on Monday.
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.
What Manfred said on sports betting
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.
And then on Las Vegas…
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.
Manfred, getting more liberal on sports betting?
What Manfred said on Monday morning is an escalation of things he has said just in the past two months:
- He said that MLB is “reexamining our stance on [sports] gambling.’
- He also indicated that MLB has already done research on sports betting.
- Manfred talked about Las Vegas as a potential landing spot for a team.
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.
The NFL and NBA on sports betting
Things continue to change with other leagues, as well:
- The NFL is moving the Raiders to Vegas. Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the regulated environment for Nevada sports betting could be beneficial to the league.
- The NHL will have a team in Vegas starting next season.
- The NBA continues to lead the way. A league executive recently saying that there is “forward motion” for legal sports betting.