Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred discussed sports gambling with Yahoo Finance on Wednesday and made some pretty salient points. Among them is becoming more open-minded about fans legally gambling on the sport in the United States.
Manfred said that betting on games is a "form of fan engagement" and "can fuel the popularity." He might not be explicitly talking about people playing fantasy baseball for money, but that's what most comes to mind here. There is, of course, betting on games, season-long over/unders and much more. We often discuss it in this space and they definitely do over on SportsLine. It would be silly to ignore that it happens and Manfred knows as much (via Yahoo Finance).
"Sports betting happens," Manfred said. "Whether it's legalized here or not, it's happening out there. So I think the question for sports is really, 'Are we better off in a world where we have a nice, strong, uniform, federal regulation of gambling that protects the integrity of sports, provides sports with the tools to ensure that there is integrity in the competition ... or are we better off closing our eyes to that and letting it go on as illegal gambling? And that's a debatable point."
For me, he hits the nail on the head. He gets it.
Take note of the protecting the integrity of the game comment. MLB wouldn't be changing any rules as far as the players are concerned. Gambling would still carry a permanent ban and, no, Pete Rose fans, this wouldn't impact his standing with the league at all. We're strictly talking about fans here.