On Tuesday, November 27, 2018, Major League Baseball announced an agreement with MGM Resorts for the hospitality and entertainment company to become baseball’s first gambling industry partner.
The agreement allows MGM Resorts to promote its gambling opportunities on Major League Baseball’s platforms, such as MLB Network, MLB.com, and the MLB At Bat app. Further, the deal will provide MGM Resorts with access to proprietary data available only to Major League Baseball, such as exit velocity and spin rate. In return, Major League Baseball will have access to the 31 million people in MGM Resorts’s database. Speaking on the deal, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said, “It’s more than just making a business deal. . . It’s having in place a set of policies for the industry that give us comfort on what is always our most important issue – that is integrity.”
Fan attendance at professional baseball games dropped four percent last season, marking a decline in attendance five times in six seasons. Fan attendance has dropped below 70 million for the first time since 2003. Commissioner Manfred said that “[o]ur research is really strong on the idea that sports gaming can be an important source of fan engagement. . . We want to operate in a really competitive environment and we have to take advantage of every opportunity to drive engagement by our fans.”
The National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League have also struck deals with MGM Resorts since July of this year. Sports leagues are embracing the sports gambling industry ever since the United States Supreme Court struck down the unconstitutional Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act earlier this year for violating the anti-commandeering rule in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, 584 U.S. ___ (2018).
M.L.B., Once Averse to Gambling, Strikes a Deal With MGM Resorts, The New York Times (November 27, 2018)
State-by-state sports betting bill tracker, ESPN (November 26, 2018)