Pennsylvania Gaming Takes Down Spring Training Bets for MLB
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PCGB) officially pulled spring training baseball for sports bettors after MLB sent a request to take the games off of sportsbooks across the nation.
Yesterday, the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) denied MLB's wish but Pennsylvania agreed to take spring training off their sportsbooks.
The PCGB has asked for six of the state's sports betting facilities to halt any MLB spring training games while the league studies its 'integrity concerns.'
Major League Concerns?
MLB's concern comes from the exhibition games viewed as being meaningless, leaving players more vulnerable to tampering since it's less of a concern.
Also, MLB is worried because "...in-person betting on spring training in one state did not pose nearly the same integrity risks that widespread betting on spring training in multiple states will pose.”
Exhibition games have always been bet on though, such as All-Star games. Nevada has taken wagers on spring training games for many years as well.
Players vulnerable to tampering is a bit of a stretch too.
Players who see the most action in spring training have all the motivation they need to play well. They're trying to make an MLB roster and for some, spring training is their only opportunity.
Baseball's quote on spring training games being susceptible to a higher integrity risk due to multiple state locations is a bit misleading too.
Spring training is only played in two states, Florida and Arizona.
While Nevada denies the request and Pennsylvania accepts it, other states are still unsure how to proceed. It's unclear what New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island, and West Virginia will do.
Mississippi didn't receive any request from baseball until yesterday afternoon, as they are now examining the issue themselves.
DraftKings Sportsbook, which is New Jersey's top online sportsbook, still has spring training odds listed as of right now.
More of a Concern for Sportsbooks?
Perhaps a more pressing concern comes from the sportsbooks, as many fear what Pennsylvania's decision may ripple into.
William Hill, a regulated sportsbook in the U.S., believes the request from MLB will only push bettors to 'offshore' markets.
Another concern from sportsbooks is that if MLB's request to have exhibition games pulled is granted, then other leagues may demand the same treatment.
There is almost no money to be made for sportsbooks in spring training though, as the demand is not very high. As a matter of fact, most sportsbooks only allow a maximum bet of $500 because of how little it draws.
For now, Pennsylvania sportsbooks are going to play ball with MLB. It helps too that one of the six sports betting facilities in Pennsylvania wasn't offering spring training bets anyways.
The Hollywood Casino at Pennsylvania National Race Course won't blink an eye on the news. However, the other five casinos might as they have already taken down spring training odds for games. Those casinos include:
- Rivers Casino
- South Philly Turf Club
Baseball Hurting Itself?
Many sports business reporters, claims that MLB isn't thinking about the big picture.
For a sport so desperate to increase viewership that they consider a pitch clock, allowing bets for spring training games would likely increase fan engagement.
Also, the league entered a partnership with MGM Resorts in December. Part of the new deal will see MLB players wearing an MGM Resorts patch on their uniform, along with the entire series being named after the casino giant.
We'll see if other states decide to follow Pennsylvania or Nevada's lead.
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