Posted on November 28, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The link between sports and legal betting continues to grow, and Major League Baseball is willingly going along for the ride. On Tuesday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced a partnership between the league and MGM Resorts International, a prominent gaming operator. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed. However, it means that MGM is the official gaming and entertainment partner for Major League Baseball, who joins the NBA and NHL in partnering with MGM.
“We are pleased to partner with MGM Resorts International, a clear industry leader in the sports gaming area, to work together on bringing innovative experiences to baseball fans and MGM customers,” Manfred said in a press release. “Our partnership with MGM will help us navigate this evolving space responsibly, and we look forward to the fan engagement opportunities ahead.”
As part of the deal, MGM will have exclusive access to certain advanced statistics, such as speed around the bases, defensive route efficiency to a ball in play, and the increasingly-popular exit velocity on home runs. MGM sportsbooks will also be able to use MLB’s official statistic feed. Having access to such information should facilitate and expand the amount of MLB-related sports betting.
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“There has been a huge change in public opinion and the whole legal framework surrounding sports gaming and I think it has presented an opportunity for all sports and baseball in particular,” says Manfred. “Our research is really strong on the idea that sports gaming is an important source of fan engagement and we operate in a competitive environment and we have to take advantage of every opportunity to drive engagement by our fans.”
In May, a Supreme Court decision opened the door to state-sponsored sports betting outside of Nevada. Since then, seven states have joined Nevada in offering legal sports gambling options. Manfred and MLB have tried to embrace the new world of legal gambling as much as any other major sports league. This agreement with MGM is a testament to that, with Manfred saying it creates an “opportunity to be creative with respect to the types of wagers.”
Of course, part of the deal includes MLB and MGM working together to promote responsible gaming practices. Manfred’s press release states that the two will “work to protect the integrity of the game both on and off the field.”
The American Gaming Association also released a statement praising MLB’s agreement with MGM. The AGA stated that “Agreements between sports leagues and the gaming industry enable all sports stakeholders to work together to eliminate the illegal sports betting market.”
Obviously, MLB is merely following in the footsteps of the NBA and NHL with this partnership. However, for a sport that has at least a dozen games virtually every night from April to September and owns much of the month of October, having an official gambling partner is a big deal. More importantly, MLB handing over exclusive data to MGM is a sign that baseball is making a concerted effort to be a big part of the ever-growing legal sports betting landscape.