Major Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred is an ideas man.
From the moment he took over the position from Bud Selig, Manfred has been open to tweaking–or in some cases overhauling–the status quo in a sport that needs to adapt for the modern sports fan.
While pitch clocks, banning shifts, limiting pitching changes, eliminating the protocol for intentional walks, putting the DH in both leagues and starting extra innings with runners already on base are all interesting ideas, Manfred’s latest thought can actually move the needle.
During a Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit on Thursday, Manfred admitted to re-thinking baseball’s stance against gambling.
“There is this buzz out there in terms of people feeling that there may be an opportunity here for additional legalized sports betting,” Manfred said, per Yahoo. “We are reexamining our stance on gambling. It’s a conversation that’s ongoing with the owners.”
The reason? Fans enjoy how it adds to the experience of following the game.
“Sports betting happens,” Manfred said. “Whether it’s legalized here or not, it’s happening out there. So I think the question for sports is really, ‘Are we better off in a world where we have a nice, strong, uniform, federal regulation of gambling that protects the integrity of sports, provides sports with the tools to ensure that there is integrity in the competition … Or are we better off closing our eyes to that and letting it go on as illegal gambling? And that’s a debatable point.”
Baseball can tweak the game, increase pace and try to cut down on 10-15 minutes all it wants–that’s not going to bring the average 22-year-old off his or her phone to sit down for more than two and a half hours to watch.
But if baseball wants to partner with more daily fantasy sites, join the push for legalized sports betting on the game and offer another form of engagement for fans, an impact could be felt.