Legal Sports Report

MLB Executive Makes Wild Assertion About Offshore Sportsbooks And Data

MLB offshore sports betting

There are currently a lot of things being written about sports betting in the US. Some of it is informative, some of it is wrong.

But a nugget from Major League Baseball from a report in The Hill might make your jaw drop, if you read it closely enough.

‘We could help curb people betting illegally offshore’

The story in question takes a bird’s eye view at what’s going down since the US Supreme Court struck down the ban on single-game wagering. It talks about efforts by the NBA and Major League Baseball to advance their preferred policies when it comes to regulating sports gambling.

That has, to date, included asking for an integrity fee or royalty from sportsbook operators, a cut of all wagers in states that legalize wagering. The leagues haven’t indicated that they want to give anything up for it, until now:

“There are certain things we said we would do back,” the MLB official said, in reference to the integrity fee requests, asking for anonymity because he is not authorized to speak about internal business decisions. “One of the big things is offshore betting. We would help curb people betting illegally offshore, including having agreements with data suppliers so that they can’t provide data to illegal sportsbooks.”

There’s a lot to unpack here, starting with…

Wait, what was that about illegal sportsbooks?

The MLB executive here says that his league could provide a service to states that give them an integrity fee — working with data suppliers to stop them from also working with offshore sportsbooks.

If we take the obverse side of the executive’s statement, that seems to imply that MLB either 1. already knows that it works with data suppliers that in turn work with offshore sportsbooks or 2. that it would in the future if it doesn’t get an integrity fee.

Either of these scenarios, of course, is alarming. Why would MLB even consider working with a data supplier if it knows it works with offshore books? If the statement isn’t accurate, then the MLB executive is offering something his or her league can’t deliver.

Wait, why do they need an integrity fee to make this happen?

The next level of this is the fact that MLB seems to be saying it needs an integrity fee to make this arrangement happen.

MLB should not need to be bribed —  ahem, given an integrity fee — to stop any data providers from working with offshore books. It should already be discouraging this practice before any new states have legal wagering, and it should only be working with data suppliers that work with books that are fully legal and regulated in the US (and in other jurisdictions, of course).

If MLB is not willing to do anything now or in the future to stop the practice of supplying data to offshore books (without monetary gain) it shouldn’t have a place at the table at all when it comes to sports betting.

The whole statement from the unnamed executive boggles the mind. And it brings into question what the leagues are trying to do with sports betting at the highest level.

Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.