MLB, NBA on board with Legal Sports Betting in America

The Chicago Black Sox Scandal of 1919, where eight players were accused of throwing World Series games for money, still has reverberations today – most notably in keeping sports betting illegal throughout most of the U.S. Nevertheless, the MLB seems to be looking past this dark page in baseball’s history and opening up to the idea of legal sports betting. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said as much earlier this year.

“Gambling in terms of our society has changed its presence on legalization, and I think it’s important for there to be a conversation between me and the owners about what our institutional position will be,” Manfred explained.

The MLB isn’t the only entity that’s realized the changing relationship between sports and gambling. In fact, from casino bigwigs to politicians, many believe that America will soon have legal sports betting on a federal level.

“No doubt about it,” said Las Vegas bookmaker Jimmy Vaccaro, while speaking with Trib Live, “the walls are crumbling.” Sean Sullivan, general manager of The Meadows Racetrack and Casino in North Strabane, agreed with this sentiment by saying, “I do believe it’s coming.”

Even powerful politicians like Arizona Sen. John McCain are intrigued by sports betting since he told Congress that they should be holding hearings on the matter. It’s also worth mentioning that NBA Commission Adam Silver hinted that he’d be interested in legalizing sports wagering, saying it’s “good for business.”

Currently, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 limits sports betting to Delaware, Montana, Oregon and Nevada. But only the latter truly has a thriving sports betting industry. And leagues like the NFL, NHL and NCAA would like to keep it this way, even though they, along with other sports leagues, benefit tremendously from fan interest generated through gambling.

However, it seems like only a matter of time before the opposition has to step aside because many states want a piece of the sports wagering pie. Nevada sportsbooks took in a record $3.9 billion in wagers last year, which is something that didn’t go unnoticed by New Jersey. The Garden State has fought several times over the past few years to get legal sports betting – although each effort has failed. But given New Jersey’s push, along with softening stances by certain sports leagues, it doesn’t seem like long before the activity will be legalized.