How Legalized Sports Gambling Affects Major League Baseball

Gambling and the world of sports have a long and sordid history, dating back to the beginning of time. People have found ways to bet on all manner of athletic competitions throughout history, and America’s pastime is no different. Unfortunately, baseball has had its fair share of sports betting scandals that have left blemishes on its history. From the 1919 Black Sox Scandal to the rise and fall of Pete Rose, the effects of gambling have affected baseball across time. 

Major League Baseball Gambling Scandals

As the long and winding relationship between gambling and Major League Baseball continues to evolve, the rise of legalized sports betting looks to throw the game on its head once again. In 2019, America’s pastime, at odds with the gambling world for much of its past, marks the 100th anniversary of the famous “Black Sox” scandal, which involved an alleged conspiracy between members of the Chicago White Sox and prominent gamblers to throw the 1919 World Series.

In more recent history, the 1990s saw one of the game’s greatest hitters turned major league managers fall from grace as the result of getting caught betting on baseball while a manager. Pete Rose was subsequently banned from baseball and became ineligible for election into the Hall of Fame. While there has been traction among fans in recent years to get him into the storied institution, the decision-makers in the MLB have yet to yield. The crux of the argument revolves around the legalization of gambling and its generally more accepted part of the sports ecosystem.

How Has the MLB Responded to Legalized Sports Betting?

With the national movement to legalize sports betting getting traction and more states taking the steps, how the national sports leagues responded to them would make waves. But, despite that complicated history, with the recent legalization of sports betting in New Jersey, Major League Baseball (MLB) has embraced change, welcoming gambling as a way to engage fans. 

Embracing Partnerships

With major sportsbooks rising into prominence, the MLB has taken steps to capitalize on the popularity of legalized sports betting and engage the fans where they are interacting with their product. Strategic partnerships with companies such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM have given rise to more ads appearing at stadiums and baseball-centric television broadcasts. 

Improved Fan Engagement

While it appears that MLB hasn’t forgotten about the game’s sordid history with gambling, that doesn’t mean they are going to ignore a potential avenue to engage with fans. With the game’s popularity on a downward trajectory in recent years, commissioner Rob Manfred wants to find ways to bring in new fans and back some lapsed ones. 

With the structure of the average game offering unique opportunities for bettors to wagers in real-time and in response to the flow of a given game, it could be a potential boon for the game. However, in-game wagering could potentially lead to a new rise in problem gambling that should not be dismissed.

Potential Rise in Problem Gambling

One of the potential downsides to legalized sports betting is the rise in avenues to engage with gambling. The normalization of gambling and the increase in betting sites can create a dramatic spike in people that experience gambling problems. Sportsbooks will entice potential gamblers into their own ecosystems with first-time offers and special deals that make it seem like a sure bet and that they’ll come away a winner. Sometimes, that first interaction is all a person needs before developing a severe gambling problem. 

Have a Baseball-Fueled Gambling Problem? Don’t Wait to Get Help!

It will be interesting to see how this story develops and how legalized sports betting in Atlantic City impacts how baseball fans watch and bet on their favorite sport in the coming years. The proliferation of baseball gambling across the country, as well as increased gambling coverage in the media, could make it difficult for fans dealing with a gambling problem to savor the season. 

As more aspects of our daily sports consumption become saturated with gambling ads and deals, it can feel overwhelming for recovering problem gamblers from feeling at ease watching America’s Pastime. When you begin to think that these situations are becoming too much for you, having resources you can turn to for guidance and support can make all the difference in the world with your ongoing recovery. 

If you or a loved one needs help enjoying baseball in a healthy way, please call our 24-hour, free, and confidential helpline at 1-800-GAMBLER for support, treatment, and hope. Play ball!



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