If you’ve been reading any of my content lately, you can see I’m growing more obsessed with the changing market place now that legalization of sports gambling is at the forefront of every league. Major League Baseball is no exception, partnering with MGM on November 27th, 2018. When the deal was first announced, no one really knew what to expect moving forward as it was somewhat vague as to what each party would receive out of it. MGM’s official press release contained the following:
“MGM Resorts will be identified as an MLB-Authorized Gaming Operator and utilize MLB’s official statistics feed, on a non-exclusive basis, throughout its digital and live domestic sports gaming options. MLB will also make enhanced statistics available to MGM on an exclusive basis. In addition, MGM Resorts and MLB will work together on comprehensive responsible gaming measures and work to protect the integrity of the game both on and off the field.”
Enter Peter Gammons, giving the first taste of what measures they worked together on:
Per MLB’s gambling deal, managers have been told their daily lineups must 1st go to Commissioner’s Office, not to PR, not to media. “I’m really bothered by this,” one manager says. It’s OK to not field he best team, for service time reasons, but lineups 1st must go to Vegas.
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) March 6, 2019
What’s The Rule, Anyway?
Section 4.03, Exchange of Lineup Cards:
Unless the home club shall have given previous notice that the game has been postponed or will be delayed in starting, the umpire, or umpires, shall enter the playing field five minutes before the hour set for the game to begin and proceed directly to home base where they shall be met by the managers of the opposing teams. In sequence:
(a) First, the home manager, or his designee, shall give his batting order to the umpire-in-chief, in duplicate.
(b) Next, the visiting manager, or his designee, shall give his batting order to the umpire-in-chief, in duplicate.
Everything before that is just speculation by the media or posted via social media. With this rule change, apparently, lineups are first going to be sent to the commissioner’s office (at a deadline time we don’t know yet) who will then pass them off to “Las Vegas” but more specifically, MGM sports books, because you know, exclusive partner and all.
Why Does Any Of This Matter?
In theory, if a player is out, injured, or scratched MGM sports books will be the first to know before any bettor. If you read the above press release, this is a measure being taken to protect the integrity of the game as it’s being given to MGM prior to the media and public relations (who could leak it.) In reality, what’s going to happen is MGM books have bought themselves the best insider information on the planet for lineups and can adjust the market accordingly before lineups are available. If you see an MGM property make a harsh price change an hour or so before first pitch, it will be a very strong indicator if a probable player or pitcher is in the lineup for that day or not. If I was a bookmaker, MGM’s screen is going to be front and center when lineups are released to them. As a bettor, an MGM app is now must have if for nothing more than to be treated as a Don Best screen during that time. For all the offshore users out there, it’s the same philosophy as they should just follow along with MGM’s move in a drastic price change, should one occur.
That’s a huge deal when you think about it. For the first time in sports betting, one set of Las Vegas properties are going to have an advantage over every other sports book and bettor in town. It does seem like that window is going to be small, rumors say about fifteen minutes prior, but it’s still a landmark type of business deal for MGM, who now has an advantage no one else in the sports betting world does. It certainly may shift the way casinos think of partnering with leagues moving forward, and it could be the first domino of demands. Do I think MGM brokered a deal with MLB to have a fifteen minute window to be kings of the baseball market? No. That being said, they accomplished it either way.
In the extreme cases, if a marquee player is out of the lineup make no mistake MGM is going to know about it first and move their market first. From the day to day player perspective, they’re going to know exactly who is in the lineup every day first as well. The thing is, outside of maybe the top 20 players in baseball and also throwing out any disabled list players, the betting line isn’t going to change very much from an every day player to his backup. Certainly not to the point you can’t buy out of your wager if you feel that strongly enough about it. Major League Baseball’s betting market just doesn’t move based on injury (beside pitchers being scratched) the way say, The NFL’s does.
Lastly, what could the possible punishment be for a team’s manager making a lineup change after giving the card to the league office? Is MLB willing to publicly fine a manager for a gambling issue? We don’t know the time parameters set in place in the deal between them, but there could possibly be delays if it’s not constructed properly and the process just got longer with added steps. Bettors and the social accounts we follow that post lineups are likely to be well behind now.
The Good News
Most sports books in Las Vegas and offshore at least hang overnight betting lines, although The South Point is the only 24/7 sports book that allows you to actually bet them after hours. Every Las Vegas sports book and offshore website are going to hang a number at the open of the market for the day just the same as before and it will be available for you to bet like normal throughout the day and not a ton will change day to day until MGM receives the lineups before the rest of the market.
The other way you can potentially use this to your advantage is by using that potential betting line move against sports books. If you’re able to watch MGM’s market, you have a chance to spot a drastic price change before at least one sports book you use. If you’re able to see the move made by MGM you can get ahead of the market that is surely going to follow them. You could bet the price early in the day if you know a specific player is worth a lot to a moneyline and create a middle opportunity for yourself by waiting for MGM and simply buying out if he’s ruled in and the price doesn’t change.
If you’re like me and bet baseball every single day, it’s just another added wrinkle to deal with with a specific set up shops in Las Vegas owned by MGM. Unless MGM is planning on giving their information to every offshore book before they move their lines every single day (they won’t-exclusive partner) then you will have every bit the opportunity they do to beat the market.