Sports betting is now legal in more than 30 states after the Supreme Court struck down PASPA in 2018. As wagering grows and more states pass laws to make it possible, some questions arise about what’s known as official betting. The term refers to the ability of a player or team to place a bet on their own game or on another one that they play in. It’s a form of match-fixing that can be extremely dangerous for the integrity of the sport, and is not tolerated by MLB.
In 1919, a professional gambler named Joseph Sullivan paid eight White Sox players – including Oscar Felsch, Arnold Gandil, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Fred McMullin, Charles Risberg and George Weaver – to lose the World Series for him. The scandal became known as the Black Sox Scandal and led to the lifetime bans of all of those involved. The MLB has a longstanding code against gambling that includes seeking, offering or accepting a bribe to fix a match or event within a match. Those found guilty of breaking the code are banned from MLB for life and are also barred from the Hall of Fame.
Despite the prohibition against gambling by players, many leagues are pushing for a so-called “integrity fee” in US sports betting law. The concept empowers the leagues to collect a direct cut off the top of the overall US sports betting handle. Sources within the industry suggest this “official data” provision could cost operators as much as 0.25% of their total sports betting handle.