Betting On Minor League Baseball In Vegas Is Back, But Books Aren’t Taking Much Action

Written By Marc Meltzer on April 24, 2019
Minor League Betting

Nevada sportsbooks are allowed to take wagers on professional baseball games played in the state for the first time in more than 30 years. Two Las Vegas sportsbook operators are now taking wagers on the minor league team located in Sin City.

Just before the minor league baseball season started, the Nevada Gaming Commission abolished a rule from 1985 that banned sportsbooks from accepting wagers on any professional baseball team or professional baseball game played in Nevada.

Nevada is home to two minor league baseball teams – the Reno Aces and Las Vegas Aviators (formerly Las Vegas 51’s).

Station Casinos and the Westgate jumped at the opportunity to offer wagering on the new Las Vegas baseball team. To date, the sportsbooks in Reno (and Las Vegas) have decided not to put up odds on the Aces.

Betting on the Aviators

Both the Westgate and Station Casinos are offering moneyline and over/under totals for bettors. The Westgate is also offering a runline for the Las Vegas Aviators games. There are no prop bets or in-play wagering for the games with either sportsbook operator.

The Las Vegas Aviators season is just underway. While there’s excitement to see the team play in person (they sold out each of the first seven games), the same can’t be said for gambling on the games. Westgate Vice President of Sports Operations Jay Kornegay told TheLines that they are seeing “very little action on the games so far.”

The Vegas Golden Knights performance on the ice and in the arena could brush off on the Aviators. The passion to see the team play in person might help at the sportsbook. Although there’s a small sample to work with Kornegay says that there have been more wagers on the Aviators when they play at home. The sight of Red Rock Casino behind Las Vegas Ballpark is a good reminder to place a wager before the game begins.

Don’t expect to see additional wagering opportunities opening for the Las Vegas Aviators until more people are betting on the games. However, bettors can expect to see more in-state baseball wagering from games in Nevada.

The Chicago Cubs usually play a weekend series during spring training in Las Vegas. Big League Weekend was canceled this year because the new stadium was still under construction. Big League Weekend should return in 2020.

Even though Las Vegas sportsbooks take wagers on major league baseball Spring Training games, they previously weren’t allowed to take bets on these games because they’re played in Las Vegas.

Concern about minor league baseball betting

Pat O’Connor, President and CEO of Minor League Baseball, is concerned about the impact sports betting could have on the game. While he’s the boss of the league, minor league baseball players are actually Major League Baseball employees.

In theory, major league players shouldn’t be susceptible to bribery to throw a game because they’re paid well. According to Forbes, the minimum salary for Major League Baseball players is currently $555,000 a year. The Boston Herald says that Single A minor league players make as little as $2,000 per month. That’s $500 per week that’s only paid during baseball season.

The big league and minor league officers have similar opinions about potential integrity issues. Both think that the low pay for minor league baseball players leaves them open to potentially being bribed. That could be a legitimate concern if a sportsbook operator decides to take action on the lowest level of minor league baseball.

There are similar worries in Europe about lower level soccer matches. Less than 10 years ago there were 17 arrests made for fixing of more than 200 soccer matches throughout Europe. Lower levels of all professional sports can be compromised since the players make little money.

Of course, Major League Baseball could increase wages for their players to remove some of the concern. Instead, MLB is upset about the Blue Jays hiking pay for their minor league players.

Legal US sportsbooks tend to keep limits low enough to where bribing a minor league player isn’t worth the hassle. Even if someone wants to pay minor league players to throw a game, they’ll be hard pressed to find enough liquidity in the market to get a fruitful return on investment.

Once again, the real concern should be with illegal bookies and sportsbook operators.

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Marc Meltzer

Marc Meltzer grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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