Major League Baseball says it’s okay with playing games in London, despite the fact that bookmakers will be legally taking wagers within spitting distance of home plate.
In an interview with the Associated Press, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred (pictured) said the league hopes to play a regular season game in London during the 2017 season. In doing so, baseball would join the NFL, NBA and NHL, which have all scheduled regular season games in Europe in recent years.
Manfred was cagey on details, but London’s Olympic Stadium has been suggested as a likely venue to host whichever MLB teams are selected to cross the pond for the league’s first European foray.
The NFL and the other leagues that have staged UK matches have been criticized for maintaining a double standard regarding sports betting. All four leagues have actively fought New Jersey’s efforts to bring legal sports betting to the Garden State based on their claims that sports betting threatens the integrity of their sporting product.
Conscious of this double standard, the NFL requires UK bookmakers to temporarily close their betting windows at Wembley Stadium whenever the league is in town, but countless other betting opportunities are available, including mobile wagering from the stands while the game is in progress.
A year ago, Manfred said he wanted to have a “conversation” with team owners regarding sports betting. Whether or not this conversation actually took place, the league continues to oppose New Jersey’s efforts, not to mention Pete Rose’s rightful place in Cooperstown, so principles continue to trump pragmatism.
Meanwhile, Manfred told ESPN that the increasing number of state attorneys general that have declared daily fantasy sports to be illegal gambling hadn’t affected his view of the league’s cozy ties to DraftKings. Manfred said he remains “comfortable” with this relationship and expects the major DFS operators to “respond in a positive way” to the ongoing controversy.