MLB Wants Royalties If Washington State Approves Sports Betting

Posted on: October 14, 2019, 02:53h. 

Last updated on: October 14, 2019, 03:51h.

MLB wants its cut of the action if Washington State approves sports betting, asking for a royalty of 0.25 percent, or 25 cents on a $100 bet, for each wager placed on the sport in the Evergreen State.

If Washington State approves sports betting, MLB wants a cut of the action. (Image: USA Today)

MLB is pitching the royalty plan under the auspices of protecting “the integrity of the game,” promising local lawmakers that revenue generated from the modest fee would be used for hiring staff and implementing monitoring systems used to avert betting crises.

In a recent presentation, Marquest Meeks, senior counsel for MLB’s sports betting and investigations unit, regaled members of the Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC) with history lessons involving the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal and Pete Rose’s penchant for betting.

We are particularly sensitive to trying to make sure we can root out and avoid corruption before it gets to the point of scandal, because it sticks to baseball for a long time to come,” said Meeks before the WSGC, reports The News Tribune.

Eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox, later ominously dubbed the “Black Sox,” were accused of fixing that year’s World Series against the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for cash from an organized crime syndicate led by gangster Arnold Rothstein.

Rose, now a Las Vegas resident and MLB’s all-time hits leader, played in the big leagues from 1963 through 1986 and was a manager from 1984 to 1989. He was barred from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991 after being accused of betting on games in which he played and managed.

MLB Could Be Waiting Awhile

Washington is currently home to two teams from the four major US sports leagues – MLB’s Seattle Mariners and the NFL’s Seahawks, which also call the Emerald City home. The city is getting an NHL team for the 2021-22 season, and has been without an NBA franchise since the SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 campaign.

MLB’s royalty argument is sensible, with the league saying without its product, there would be no betting on baseball. Still, the league’s effort to get what it believes is its fair share of the action in Washington could take awhile, simply because sports betting legislation has not advanced rapidly there.

During the most recent legislative session, the state’s lawmakers considered three sports betting proposals, but none were signed into law. Political observers believe it could be 2021 before politicians there take up the debate again, because Washington’s state house and senate have shorter sessions in even-numbered years.

Oregon, Washington’s neighbor to the south, is close to unveiling its mobile sports betting app, while Idaho, the other state adjacent to the Evergreen State, didn’t consider a sports wagering bill this year.

Another Issue

Even if Washington State approves sports betting, MLB may find it difficult to convince politicians and gaming operators there to go along with the royalty plan for a simple reason: none of the other states where the activity is currently permitted have signed-off on paying the league for the privilege of offering bettors action on professional baseball.

Although MLB has a 162-game regular season, 10 times that of the NFL and almost double the NBA calendar, data suggest baseball isn’t bettors’ favorite sport. From 1992 through 2018, gamblers in Nevada plunked down $31.88 billion on football and $21.37 billion on basketball compared to $16.25 billion on MLB, according to UNLV.