The Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates will be the first MLB teams to host fans legally betting on mobile devices, SportTechie's Joe Lemire reported Friday.
According to the report, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board expects the state’s first online sportsbook to begin live testing before June. That means Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and PNC Park in Pittsburgh will join the short list of sports venues where fans can bet on live game action within the next two weeks.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says this new opportunity for fans is simply the next progression in online gambling. He stands firmly behind the league’s sports betting policies and says the integrity of games will not be impacted.
“Mobile is a reality,” Manfred said. “It is going to be the predominant vehicle by which people engage in sports betting. It’s kind of like analytics, you have to accept that reality. Then I think what you try to do is build in limitations around what the clubs can do so that mobile activity that is going to go on in the stadium doesn’t become all-pervasive. We’re a family entertainment product.”
As for the how the league will approach mobile gambling:
“We’re going to recognize that the mobile is going on but build in rules around it,” Manfred said. “And in some ways, mobile helps you, right? If you have mobile betting available, it reduces the pressure you might otherwise get to have kiosks or betting parlors or whatever. If somebody’s doing it on their phone, you don’t know if they’re looking at their Facebook page or making a bet, and that may be a good thing.”
‘More symbolic than anything’
Mobile sports betting was previously legalized in three other states — New Jersey, Nevada and West Virginia — meaning this isn’t completely new to professional sports.
Though not specifically named, the report says two NFL franchises, two NHL teams, one MLS club, and one WNBA organization, have had mobilized betting come into their venues. It’s not difficult to figure out which teams those are based on location.
Lemire notes there have been no reports of any issues stemming from betting in those venues. In fact, Sportradar VP Neale Deeley says the simple fact it’s now possible doesn’t necessarily mean fans are partaking in high numbers.
“The vast majority of it is done on the couch at home,”. “We call it ‘mobile,’ but it’s actually static to where it’s being done.”
As Lemire termed it, the impact of betting inside a sporting venue is likely “more symbolic than anything.”
Nonetheless, this development will certainly change the gaming experience for many fans, while raising more questions and concerns from others.
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