How will the legalization of betting impact baseball?
The Supreme Court ruled on May 14 in favor of lifting the federal ban on sports betting. The states will be left to their own devices to decide appropriate regulations. Some have already started the process of legalizing sports betting. This decision has fueled a discussion on how the change will affect sports and athletes. Baseball has had a rough history with betting. It was a huge scandal when in 1919 World Series match White Sox threw the game after some of its players received money from a gambler. Some fans fear that reintroduction of sports betting will bring about similar scandals.
The change could affect baseball in several other ways as well. Some critics point out that allowing sports betting will affect the athletes, who will receive an especially negative response from outraged fans who after losing money on a bet. “I don’t see how, from a player’s perspective, it can get a lot worse than it did once daily fantasy started, once DraftKings and FanDuel got in there. People, essentially, felt like they were losing money because of my performance. It’s no different. They’ve already been doing it. They hammer you on Twitter. They give you death threats, whatever else that comes with it. It’s everybody just hiding behind a computer screen,” a Marlins athlete, Brad Ziegler commented on the issue. DraftKings and FanDuel are daily fantasy sports where users can enter a special contest and win money.
Of course, another big problem people see with legalizing sports betting is the corruptibility of the athletes. Although betting for an athlete is against the rules and will lead to immediate disqualification, there have been examples of players betting on their own games and playing accordingly. Today, the risk for this to happen seems to be smaller than it was several decades ago. Oversight of such activities is a lot stronger and with the new technologies, it is easier to detect who is behind each wager. In addition, there is much more on the line for the athletes as they receive higher salaries than they did before.
We can only wait and see what kind of effect the new regulations will have on sports and baseball. It is also possible that nothing will change at all in terms of how the sports are played. Sports betting has been legal in Europe for a long time, and although there are some stories here and there about athletes being found out for betting on their own games, no major scandal has occurred in a long time.