MLB tries again to secure a sports gambling integrity fee
The league tries to convince Washington State that the fee is good for the game
In the year and a half since the US Supreme Court told federal lawmakers they were wrong for approving PASPA, a handful of states has introduced sports gambling. Out of all of those who have gotten onboard so far, not a single one has included language in their laws that would allow a sports league to be paid a percentage based on what many sports organizations have asserted is an “integrity fee.” Despite the absence of any support, MLB isn’t giving up and has started to try to convince regulators and lawmakers in Washington State that they should approve the fee with their sports gambling legislation. It’s odd timing for the request, given that the state won’t be looking at introducing sports gambling until 2021 at the earliest.
MLB brass sent one of its lawyers to Washington State to meet with the Washington State Gambling Commission. Marquest Meeks is more than just a lawyer, though; he’s the senior counsel for the league’s betting and investigations unit. He reportedly told the commission, “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,” and pulled up the old story about how the then-Red Sox tried to fix the 1919 World Series.
That event a hundred years ago shook the core of baseball, America’s homegrown sport. To this day, it is the biggest sports gambling scandal of any league, even if there have been other, smaller scandals. Pointing it out didn’t do much to support MLB’s position.
Since 1919, MLB has engaged in activity to ensure there is integrity in the game and those actions are apparently working – there have only been about five known sports wager-related incidents since then. The fact that Meeks is part of a league unit dedicated to ensuring integrity shows that MLB is already able – and willing – to allocate resources, manpower and money to keeping games as legitimate as possible. Nevada has been taking baseball wagers for decades and there hasn’t been an increase in match-fixing at any time (Pete Rose’s saga doesn’t count).
With all that in mind, it’s easy to see that MLB brass is only looking for a way to rationalize creating a new revenue stream, not that it actually believes it needs hundreds of millions of dollars more to fight integrity issues. The fact that it tries to hide beyond a façade with its justification is dripping with irony. It wants to enforce honesty while not being honest.