How the MLB's Relationship with MGM Resorts Can Save Baseball

How the MLB's Relationship with MGM Resorts Can Save Baseball
Image © Megan Mendoza/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK
Frank Weber
Author:
Frank Weber
Updated: 
August 26th 2022 - 08:24 AM

The dark, cold days of winter can only be made more grueling by one thing: a supreme lack of baseball. Sure, the NFL playoffs are about to start up, but how long does that last? Super Bowl LVI is only a temporary solution–the crusty band-aid you find in the back of your grandmother’s cabinet–to stop us from worrying about a very serious problem.

Baseball is dying.

The average American attention span is now approximately 30 seconds (thanks TikTok) so viewership has been depleting every year. Lockouts and cheating scandals have been tarnishing the very game we love. But if there’s one thing we know about our beloved baseball, it’s that as much as it gets knocked down, it always gets back up.

Right?

I’d believe myself more if I said that outside of an MLB lockout, but sometimes you just have to play with the cards you were dealt.

No one knows how long the lockout will last, or even if it will interfere with the start of the season. But in the same breathe I could say this: No one knows if there WILL be a season.

But now’s not the time to worry about that.

The adhesive glue on the back of grandma’s crusty band-aid is still clinging on, so we still have plenty of things to distract us from what can be: a world without baseball.

Before we jump to conclusions, let’s look at the facts. Negotiations between the MLB and the MLBPA will start back up soon, and there’s no need in worrying about things that we cannot control–at least that’s what my therapist says.

Yet what we can do, is theorize–find the right glue that’ll make that crusty band-aid stick a little bit longer. Or, even better, pop a couple of stitches in so we don’t need a band-aid at all.

So what’s baseball’s glue?

I have an idea.

Sports Betting and Baseball

Sports betting and baseball get along like your ex-wife and her hunky yoga instructor. As much as she may complain about him–or on the contrary, pretend like he doesn’t exist–you know there’s some canoodling going on behind the scenes. And that’s exactly how I imagined sports betting and baseball were back in the day. You can’t tell me Pete Rose was the only manager betting on games–he’s just the only one unfortunate enough to get caught. Just because sports betting wasn’t legal doesn’t mean it wasn’t happening–and why would that stop once you enter the world of major league sports?

But we live in a different world now. Before 2018, legal sports wagers could only be placed in Las Vegas. Today, you can place in-person sports wagers in 32 states, with mobile sports betting becoming an increasingly popular option. As more sportsbooks launch and more states continue to legalize (and regulate) sports betting, the once mundane, average sports fan is now offered a brand new way to enjoy the game they love. Mobile sports betting in particular offers fans the ability to place bets from the comfort of their own homes, and follow their bets live on TV–and that’s where the MLB comes in.

The MLB and MGM Resorts

In 2018, Major League Baseball announced their multi-year partnership with MGM Resorts International, who own and operate the BetMGM sportsbook. The multi-year deal made MGM Resorts the first-ever “Official Gaming Partner of the MLB,” and with that Pete Rose rolled over in his…bed (he’s not dead yet). But ignoring how Pete Rose may feel about this, the MLB recognized something that many of us have as well–an incredible opportunity to grow the game through sports betting.

Since the signing of this deal, sports betting became more prevalent in MLB coverage than ever before. All of a sudden you saw lines and spreads at the bottom of every network's coverage, as well as odds and advertisements for sportsbooks on the MLB app itself.

What the MLB’s thinking here is simple: the more bets placed on a game, the more people there will be watching it. So the MLB is doing everything they can to promote responsible, and safe betting through the MGM Resorts branded sportsbook, BetMGM.

While it may sound like a long shot, we saw our first signs at this possibly working after the 2021 World Series. Coming into the 2021 World Series, MLB postseason viewership was at an all time low, and it had been declining every year since 2016. 2021 however, saw the first spike in viewership in five years. Additionally, that was a World Series between the Astros, the most hated team in baseball, and the Braves, who have a history of failing to sell out their own stadium. Needless to say it was a recipe for disaster, but history had other things in mind.

What This Means for the Future

A lot of this will be put to the test in this upcoming season (assuming it happens). With New York just weeks away from legalizing mobile sports betting, a massive betting market could be unlocked for the entire MLB season. New York is one of the biggest baseball states in the country, and adding on a viewership bump from sports betting could result in big viewership numbers.

In 2016 a record $1 billion dollars was bet on the MLB in Nevada alone. Now with mobile betting sweeping the country, that number is expected to rise and never look back.

Legalized sports betting offers an interesting solution to our proverbial band-aid problem. Let’s just hope we have a season to try it out on.

And hey, if you want to get in on the action and bet some MLB futures through the official gambling partner of the MLB, click HERE.

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