Pro Sports Bettor: 'Timing of These MLB Suspensions Seems Dubious'

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jun/05/2024

Key takeaways:

One prominent sports bettor is not buying the recent shock and swift actions by Major League Baseball in the wake of nearly a half dozen gambling probes.

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How It All Went Down Tuesday

Philadelphia Phillies infielder Jose Rodriguez was one of five major league and minor league baseball players either suspended or permanently banned Tuesday for violating MLB's gambling policy.

San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano, 24, has received a lifetime ban for betting on baseball after Major League Baseball received information that he wagered on games involving the Pittsburgh Pirates when he was with the team last season.

Marcano was found to have placed 387 baseball bets, including 231 MLB-related wagers, between Oct. 16, 2022 and Nov. 1, 2023, totaling over $150,000.

While all of this was unraveling, the league fully cleared Major League Baseball's darling, Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani, of any potential wrongdoing tied to a gambling scandal that surfaced back in March.

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Shohei Ohtani and his former translator, Ippei Mizuhara

Ohtani’s ex-interpreter and close friend, Ippei Mizuhara, 39, was fired by the Los Angeles Dodgers following allegations of illegal gambling and "massive theft" of the Japanese baseball superstar's funds back in March.

"Based on the thoroughness of the federal investigation that was made public, the information MLB collected, and the criminal proceeding being resolved without being contested, MLB considers Shohei Ohtani a victim of fraud and this matter has been closed," MLB said in a statement.

The Dodgers also issued the following statement: "With today's plea in the criminal proceedings against Ippei Mizuhara and the conclusion of both federal and MLB investigations, the Dodgers are pleased that Shohei and the team can put this entire matter behind them and move forward in pursuit of a World Series title."

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Not Buying It

Jack Andrews (AKA Captain Jack) is a professional sports bettor who co-founded Unabated.com to assist aspirational sports bettors.

Andrews is suspect of the recent MLB developments.

"The timing of these MLB suspensions seems dubious. The geolocation of these players relative to the growing storm in the Bowyer case seems dubious. We were fine for 5-6 years and now legal books just started picking them off?"

The Bowyer referenced is one Mathew Bowyer, Mizuhara's bookie.

The Future of MLB's Gambling Partnerships

Of course the elephant in the room is Major League Baseball's partnership deals with U.S. legalized sportsbooks.  Watch most games and gambling site brands are plastered everywhere.

MLB will face a reckoning on gambling, writes Gabe Lacques of USA Today.

"Now, the only questions are how deep it will go – and whether more prominent players will be ensnared in gambling on their sport.

"It wouldn’t be accurate to call the lifetime ban of utility infielder Tucupita Marcano and the one-year suspensions of four more players a wake-up call. It’s more like when you awaken a few minutes before the alarm clock is set to go off, and you toss and turn, awaiting its inevitable buzz."

He adds: "But it also crystallizes a modern reality where a player can dial up his FanDuel account one moment, and then amble in the training room to see who’s hurt the next. To place a seemingly harmless and MLB-legal NBA bet one second and compete for nine innings moments later.

"And to exist in a bubble where even the simple act of watching another MLB game on MLB TV will be accompanied by an incessant wave of FanDuel commercials – the music set to "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" – imploring viewers to bet over/unders on strikeout totals or anytime home runs. All using current MLB players as examples."

And Lacques is hardly alone in his assessment.

Jake Mintz of Yahoo Sports:

"iven the scale and scope of the league’s embrace of gambling, there isn’t much more it can reasonably do besides educate, warn and, when necessary, punish players. MLB could try to distance itself from sportsbooks, but that’s an unrealistic path forward.

"The league has some responsibility to ensure that players don’t feel threatened, enticed or influenced by the omnipresence of gambling in the game, but at the same time, that seems almost impossible now. The cat is out of the bag. The parlay monster has emerged from beneath the bed and isn’t going back under anytime soon. All MLB can do is cross its fingers and gamble on a relatively smooth future."

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