Sports News

U.S. states should not copy Nevada sports betting law: MLB

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Decades-old rules that govern sports betting in Las Vegas, with no requirement that casinos share data with sports leagues, are outdated and should not be copied around the country, Major League Baseball’s investigations chief said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: People wait in line to place bets after Super Bowl XLVIII proposition bets were posted at the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino Superbook in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., January 23, 2014. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus/File Photo

It “makes no sense” that Nevada’s regulations should be implemented elsewhere, said Bryan Seeley, a former federal public corruption prosecutor who heads MLB’s investigations, in an interview. “We should adopt regulations that fit 2018.”

The U.S. Supreme Court last month overturned a 1992 law banning sports betting in all but a few places, including Las Vegas. Now other states are drafting new laws to regulate and tax the activity, which would bring some of the estimated $150 billion of annual illegal sports betting into the light.

Professional sports leagues had mostly opposed legalization, saying that would lead to game fixing and ruin integrity. With sports betting set to expand nationally, the leagues, including the MLB, are struggling to get states to back anti-fraud provisions.

“Sophisticated manipulation is going to cross state lines and people are likely to place bets in different states, particularly if they know that no one is aggregating data across states and looking at it,” Seeley said.

The history of baseball is dotted with examples of corruption, including the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal, when eight Chicago White Sox players were accused of taking money from a Jewish mafia-run gambling ring to lose the World Series.

Hitting legend Pete Rose was banned from baseball in 1989 for betting on the Cincinnati Reds while he managed them.

Australia is a world benchmark for the industry, he said, because “there is the most cooperation and coordination between sports leagues, the regulator and bookmakers.”

On Tuesday, Seeley got an earful from a New Jersey lawmaker who was still upset about the leagues’ long opposition to legalization, which cost the state about $9 million of legal fees plus years of lost revenue.

The New Jersey law - which contains none of the leagues’ requests for data sharing, notification of suspicious activity or revenue sharing - is awaiting the governor’s signature.

New Jersey hopes sports betting will help revitalize its horse racetracks and gambling hub Atlantic City, where William Hill PLC plans to operate sports books.

Delaware rolled out full-scale sports betting on Tuesday.

The league is “not in communication” with bookmakers in Nevada, Seeley said.

“You can say that you care about integrity too,” Seeley said of bookmakers. “But when you turn around and oppose any requirement that you let the leagues know about integrity problems, it is hard for me to believe you.”

Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Richard Chang