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MLB Commissioner: "We See Sports Betting As Great Source Of Fan Engagement"

Rob Manfred's Talk To Boston College's Chief Executives Club Illustrated MLB's New Stance On Sports Betting

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Major League Baseball’s all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, was banned from Major League Baseball for life for betting on the outcome of games. Nearly 20 years since he accepted his ban, the sport is changing its stance on gambling, at least for the fans.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred was in Boston yesterday to speak at the Boston College Chief Executives Club luncheon. According to the Boston Business Journal, Manfred spoke on a variety of topics, including the Trump Administration and MLB’s efforts to acquire Fox Sports regional networks that are for sale.

After the talk, Manfred spoke with the media about how the league will handle the state-by-state sports betting model. Last May, the Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, allowing states to legalize sports betting within their borders.

Manfred called sports betting a “great source of fan engagement” and said that “in general, we see it as a positive.”

This is a 180 degree flip from where the league used to stand on gambling. Manfred disagrees, however, with the current model. From the league’s perspective, he would have preferred a top-down approach from the federal government.

“Would I prefer to have a single integrated structure from the federal government?” Manfred asked rhetorically to reporters on Wednesday. “Yes, because it would be easier for us to deal with one set of rules. 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. We’ll figure out a way to manage it.”

Despite the new tone on sports betting, MLB wanted sportsbooks in Nevada and New Jersey to take spring training games off of the board. Both states denied the league’s request.