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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was asked Monday at the 2024 Associated Press Sports Editors Commissioners Meetings if the league has decided to shift its stances toward legalized sports betting.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred wants prop bets carefully monitored, praises integrity system

Prop bets are one specific area of concern. With side wagers, fans can bet on individual outcomes for certain events, such as a strikeout, a go-ahead single, or grand slam. It would be much easier for an individual player to get caught wagering. 

“We’ve been on prop bets from the very beginning. When we lobby in states, there’s always certain types of bets that we have lobbied against. I mean, the first pitch of the game, we really don’t want that available as a prop bet,” Rob Manfred said. 

“When you have problems in our sport or in other sports, it makes you refocus your efforts, but we really do think that our integrity program — in terms of the monitoring and data available to us — protect the sport.” 

MLB players are allowed to gamble legally on other sports, but they are not permitted to gamble on any diamond-related sports. 

This includes MLB, Minor League Baseball, college, high school, softball, and even international games. According to the available records, there were 14 players banned from 1865 to 1920 for gambling-related offenses.

Twelve of those were banned for association with gambling or attempting to fix games, one was banned for violating the reserve clause, and one was banned for making disparaging remarks. 

Pete Rose remains banned from Hall of Fame for gambling

In 2015, then-Miami Marlins pitcher Jarred Cosart was fined for illegal gambling, but he was found to have not gambled on baseball.

Of course, MLB legend Pete Rose is still not in the Hall of Fame because he remains on the league’s ineligible list for betting on baseball games. 

In his 2004 book titled My Prison Without Bars, Rose admitted that he had bet not only on baseball but also on the Cincinnati Reds as well.

“I knew that I broke the letter of the law. But I didn’t think that I broke the ‘spirit’ of the law, which was designed to prevent corruption. During the times I gambled as a manager, I never took an unfair advantage,” Rose wrote in his book. 

“I never bet more or less based on injuries or inside information. I never allowed my wagers to influence my baseball decisions. So in my mind, I wasn’t corrupt. Granted, it was a thin distinction, but it was one that I believed at the time.”

League helped legalize sports betting in Murphy vs. National Collegiate Athletic Association in 2018 

Furthermore, Manfred added that the University of Alabama baseball scandal surfaced because the betting occurred at an MLB ballpark. 

A $100,000 bet was placed at the BetMGM sportsbook at Great American Ball Park by someone connected to Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon. 

Manfred credited the MLB’s integrity system for monitoring gambling activity. At the end of the meeting, the commissioner joked about the league’s involvement in the push for legalized sports betting.

“We were kind of dragged into legalized sports betting as a litigant in a case that ended up in the Supreme Court,” he said with a laugh.

“Having said that, I recognize — probably better today than when we were involved in that litigation — that one of the advantages of legalization is it’s a heck of a lot easier to monitor what’s going on than it is with an illegal operation.” 

The Supreme Court case Manfred is referring to is Murphy vs. National Collegiate Athletic Association from 2018. 

The court ruled that a federal law preventing states from legalizing sports gambling was unconstitutional. Since the ruling, a total of 38 states and Washington D.C. now offer legalized gambling.