Major League Baseball has announced a partnership agreement with MGM Resorts International. Among other things, the agreement makes MGM the “Official Gaming Partner of MLB.”
It’s unsurprising, but still quite notable, that the league appears to be embracing fully the onset of widespread legal gambling. There’s an immense amount of money to be made, after all, and MLB is sure to make more of it by participating without reservation. Daily fantasy sports may well prove only to have been a starter dish.
Some kind of engagement was inevitable when the Supreme Court opened the door to states to legalize gambling back in May. At the time, the league said its “most important priority is protecting the integrity of our games.” That topic is mentioned again in the MLB-MGM press release, though specifics remain unknown.
What is clear now is that MLB will jump into the exploding gambling market with both feet. MGM is set to “domestically promote its brand and gaming options across MLB’s digital and broadcast platforms,” with the sides also expressing an intention to seek “additional fan engagement offerings to be jointly developed.” It seems we can safely anticipate a high-visibility marketing campaign in the coming season.
Beyond that, MLB will allow MGM non-exclusive access to its statistics feed as well as an exclusive right to plug into “enhanced statistics.” Just what that means is anyone’s guess, but we probably oughtn’t be surprised to see prop bets on Statcast feats.
If you think that sort of thing sounds wild, gird yourself. Commissioner Rob Manfred emphasized today that the pacing of a baseball game allows for “an opportunity to be creative with respect to the types of wagers” that can be facilitated in the midst of a game, as ESPN.com’s Darren Rovell tweets.
Full details obviously remain unknown, and the league is sure to remain mindful of some potential pitfalls (especially given the game’s history with gambling). In the aggregate, though, it seems the initial approach is one of expansive engagement, not of wary first steps. Needless to say, it’s a brave new world for baseball.