Major League Baseball has requested a ban on sports bets involving spring training games for Nevada, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey sportsbooks. Reports indicate other states have received similar notifications, too.
The league sent out the ban proposal the day before spring training was scheduled to begin on Feb. 21.
There is no confirmation whether West Virginia sports betting received a similar request, but we do know that BetLucky Sportsbook, the only online sportsbook in WV, has been accepting wagers on spring training games.
MLB is pleading with gambling regulators across the country to stop offering lines on spring training games because they are “more vulnerable to manipulation.” Baseball’s league office is concerned the exhibition games don’t focus on winning and could potentially create a conflict.
The state of Nevada already denied the pitch, although several other states with legal sports gambling are still discussing.
MLB fears “misuse of inside information”
MLB is trying to take a stance on spring training wagers despite their lack of action in the past. Even though this is the first time sportsbooks have offered spring training games in places like NJ, PA and West Virginia, Nevada has been accepting these bets for years.
Bryan Seeley, MLB’s deputy general counsel, wrote a letter to the Nevada Gaming Control Board on behalf of the league, justifying their point of view on the matter.
In the request to regulators, he wrote:
“Spring training games provide greater opportunity for the misuse of inside information. The outcome of games sometimes depends heavily on non-public managerial decisions that are made in advance and are independent of Club or player performance, such as how many innings a pitcher will throw or in which inning Minor League players will replace Major League players.”
Although he makes fair points, people around sportsbooks know that bettors are not looking to manipulate and fix spring training baseball. Most sportsbooks have relatively low limits on these games, only allowing gamblers to wager small amounts.
With these limitations in place and the lack of large amounts of action on spring training bets, sportsbooks would most likely notice if something was off.
Jay Kornegay, the vice president of race and sportsbook operations at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, said:
“It’s grocery dollars on these games because it is very minimal. If there was any suspicious activity on these games, it would stick out like snow in Vegas.”
MLB against sports betting in WV
This is not the first instance in which MLB spoke out against legal sports betting in West Virginia. Last year, the league was completely against the sports betting in WV.
Once legislation started moving toward legalization in the Mountain State, MLB and teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates began lobbying for integrity fees, instead.
Both sides pointed out that there would be no sports gambling market if there were no league and teams already in place. They stated that some of the revenue generated from wagering on sports should come back to MLB and its 30 franchises.
Even with Gov. Jim Justice’s support, integrity fees did not make their way into the first WV sports betting regulations.
Integrity fees, or royalties, seem to be dying a slow death. Teams and professional leagues are still trying to figure out how to profit from all the money being legally wagered now.
Spring training bets in WV
WV sports bettors and spring training fans don’t have to worry about a ban, for now at least. The BetLucky mobile app is still taking action on spring training games. It is also likely West Virginia’s retail sportsbooks are also accepting bets. However, The Greenbrier is the only one to confirm spring training betting.
The book has odds on the majority of Monday’s games including the following:
- Angels +105 vs. White Sox -125
- Dodgers -120 vs. Giants +100
- Rockies +105 vs. Rangers -125
- Indians +110 vs. Padres -130