Major League Baseball won’t change its stance on legalized sports betting in America.
The once-great league has firmly established itself as an over-controlling dad who refuses to adapt and perpetuates his traditionalist ideals because “that’s the way it’s always been” and came from “a simpler time” that “made the world a greater place.”
Indeed, MLB, that old curmudgeon, continues to sit in its rocking chair on the front porch when it’s not roaming the neighborhood ruining the fun times of youngsters.
Months after the MLB, along with other major leagues in the US, failed in lobbying states to include integrity fees in their regulations, the league has long stood behind the federal government stepping in to craft over-arching laws and guidelines for legalized sports betting.
Speaking at Boston College’s Chief Executives Club on Wednesday, Rob Manfred said as much, noting that the industry would be better served with one set of rules, established at the federal level, for each state to adopt.
“I’m a realist,” the MLB commissioner said to a group of reporters after the event. “Would I prefer to have a single integrated structure from the federal government? Yes, because it would be easier for us to deal with one set of rules.”
MLB coming around on sports betting
Since the US Supreme Court repealed PASPA last spring, seven states across the country have rolled out regulated sports betting. Another two have partial laws in place and away passage and launch. Including other states with proposed legislation, more than half of America is buying into legal wagering.
And MLB wants the federal government to oversee it all. The same league that fought tooth and nail to prevent legalized sports betting to begin with has, at the very least, begun understanding the positives of legal wagering.
“We’re realists,” Manfred said, according to a report from State House News Service (paywall). “Legalized sports betting is gonna be part of our culture going forward. We think it can be a great source of fan engagement,” Manfred said. “We do have views on exactly what the legislation should look like, but in general we see it as a positive.”
Again, though, Manfred prefers regulations begin and end at the federal level. Of course, the federal government is trying to flex its muscles in that sense, such as when senators Orrin Hatch and Chuck Schumer introduced bills in December. And, of course, there was the recent revised opinion of the Wire Act that has not sat well with states.
MLB wants federal involvement, but…
Certainly, lawmakers will continue to draft bills, make proposals and lobby for federal oversight of legal sports betting. But even the MLB acknowledges that it might be too late.
“But the reality is, given the course of the Supreme Court litigation, the federal government wasn’t going to get there in time, and the states were going to proceed.”
While it sounds like the league might back off its stance for federal inclusion, it hasn’t. Not really. If anything, Manfred hinted that his league has been challenged to a dare. And the MLB accepted.
Again, from Manfred.
“We’ll figure out a way to manage it.”
Just accept the fate and move along
In a way, it’s somewhat respectable to see the MLB not caving, to see the league persist and fight for its beliefs.
Then again, its old-man stubbornness only gets exacerbated as the MLB continues to joust for any type of control in legal wagering.
It has long lobbied for a cut of the action in the form of integrity fees. It has long fought to have a say in which events and markets regulated sportsbooks can or cannot offer, going so far as to request that states not offer bets on spring training. Even recently, MLB partnered with data provider Sportradar to have control over which information is shared with media and bookmakers.
Less than a year after SCOTUS cleared the way for state-sanctioned sports betting, the MLB, along with the other major sports leagues, has come to understand the upside of the industry.
Manfred frequently cited how regulated wagering “could create additional passion” among fans.
Perhaps, though, the MLB could catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
Former World No. 1 Jason Day withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Thursday. But unlike Tiger Woods, Davis Love and Talor Gooch, who all withdrew with some sort of injury prior to the event, Day played six full holes and then called it quits from the fairway on hole No. 7. Day explained to his caddie and playing partners that he could not continue due to a back injury.
Day’s withdrawal caused quite a stir on social media and in the betting market. Especially after Day told reporters following his WD that he “woke up and couldn’t really walk or sit up in the car” after last Saturday’s practice round at TPC Sawgrass in preparation for next week’s PLAYERS Championship,
“I was on a dose pack to try to get the inflammation out of it and that didn’t get any better,” Day said. “I saw a physio here (in Orlando) and tried to do as much work as I possibly could to get ready for this week,“ Day said. “I couldn’t play at 100 percent today, so I just wanted to see if I could get out here and may have loosened up.
“But unfortunately it didn’t, so I had to pull out.”
Will Gray of the Golf Channel said in an interview that Day had an annular tear in the L4/L5 disc which was revealed following an MRI this past Monday. He was taking some anti-inflammation medicine and carefully moving around the locker room after his WD from the event.
Day’s WD and impact on the betting market
Day won the 2016 Arnold Palmer Invitational and was one of the betting favorites this week at 14/1 odds to win the tournament. Day was also listed in a number of head-to-head 72 hold match-ups. Sportsbook rules grade any match-up or outright wagers as a loss when a golfer withdraws after he tees off on his first hole.
However, some sportsbooks again came to the bettors’ defense and offered a goodwill refund of bets made on Jason Day. That includes Ladbrokes, Sportsbet, and new legal U.S. operators FanDuel Sportsbook.
Since he withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational after just six holes due to injury, we went ahead and refunded all Jason Day bettors for the tournament.
If you had money on Day, we strongly encourage treating yourself to an ice-cold Arnold Palmer on us 🍹 pic.twitter.com/1DYOH1ngzA
— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) March 7, 2019
Should players health reports be disclosed?
Most bettors and daily fantasy sports (DFS) players are feeling like this is another example of why injuries and health reports need to be disclosed. Do the players owe it to the PGA, fans or gamblers to report health issues?
According to a PGA spokesperson, the answer, for now, is NO.
“For the foreseeable future, medical information is considered confidential,” the spokesperson said. “Players are not required to disclose an injury.”
Fellow PGA pro Kevin Kisner made his point on the subject clear.
“It’s nobody’s business,” said Kisner, co-chairman of the Tour’s Player Advisory Council, on Thursday. “I mean, are we out here to gamble, or are we out here to play golf? I don’t really give a s*** about the DFS guys. You should have picked someone else. If he had shot 65 and he had a hurt back, those guys wouldn’t have said anything.”
Gamblers often seem to feel a sense of entitlement, and they are often critical of league rules changes and reporting procedures. But the league injury reporting is not likely to change anytime soon. Even if it would seem of interest to the PGA Tour, sponsors, fans and especially gamblers.
Gamblers need to soften their stance on the issue and quit complaining. That includes verbal attacks on players and through social media rants. Bettors place bets on NFL players knowing they are playing injured, and rest assured many PGA pros are dinged up and feeling the aches and pains and even playing injured.
Day didn’t play in the Pro-Am Wednesday, which could have been a warning sign. Many golfers are playing injured to some degree, and Day has even missed three other Wednesday Pro-Ams in his career due to injury or illness and won the tournament four days later.
Gambling comes with a risk. Day took a far greater one even trying to play in Thursday’s opening round. He likely did so to not only test his back, body and ability to perform in the days and weeks ahead, but also to satisfy a commitment he’s made as a professional golfer. He may be an independent contractor and play for himself, but he and fellow Tour players at all levels represent the PGA for fans, sponsors, fellow competitors and this week the King – Arnold Palmer. Give Day and the Tour a break.