The Nippon Professional Baseball is relaxing its strict rules, all for the sake of finally ending the gambling scandal that hit the Japanese baseball league.
Early this week, the organization announced it will offer limited suspension to members—players or team staff—who would come forward and admit their involvement in betting on pro baseball games, Japan Today reported.
But there’s a deadline: those involved must confess on or before April 25.
It was the league’s investigations body that recommended for the NPB’s Executive Committee to take “exceptional measures” that will “encourage people to voluntarily disclose involvement in betting on baseball.”
Under Article 180 of the Professional Baseball Agreement, players who gamble on baseball games and or associate with criminal gangs, or yakuza, are subject to a ban that could last from one year to an indefinite period of time.
Those who admit to gambling usually face a baseball ban from one to five years at the commissioner’s discretion. But with the new NPB directive, people who show “sincere repentance” could have their indefinite suspensions altered to one year, “with the possibility of punishment being rescinded at that point.”
“Theoretically, if there are players who are conflicted, it’s necessary to create an environment where it’s easy to speak up,” said NPB Commissioner Katsuhiko Kumazaki, according to the report.
Gambling on baseball games in Japan came to light last year, when three pitchers from the Yomiuri Giants—Satoshi Fukuda, ShokiKasahara, and Ryuya Matsumoto—were discovered to have bet on professional and high school games, while also playing mahjong and golf for money.
The scandal was reignited last month, when a fourth Giants player, pitcher Kyosuke Takagi, also admitted to betting on professional games.
Takagi received a one-year suspension due to his “limited involvement” to gambling and because he cooperated with the investigators. The three players before him, on the other hand, were banned for life from playing baseball.
The gambling scandal has also prompted three of Yomiuri Giants’ top officials to resign from their positions.