New Jersey sportsbooks will welcome back spring training sports betting.
According to David Purdum of ESPN, the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has declined a request by Major League Baseball to prohibit NJ sports betting on spring training games.
New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has declined Major League Baseball's request to prohibit betting on Spring Training games at the state's regulated sportsbooks.
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) March 6, 2019
A DGE representative confirmed to Legal Sports Report that the division responded last week to MLB with the denial.
As a result, legal wagering on the league’s exhibition contests will continue at the state’s 23 retail and online sportsbooks.
Spring training back for NJ sports betting
The Nevada Gaming Control Board has already denied the MLB request.
The league’s letter reportedly addressed several concerns the MLB had with betting on spring training games, including “heightened integrity risks“ that come with it.
Certainly that worry comes with teams using minor league players along with players who ease into playing regularly rather than playing all-out right away.
In a statement from the MLB, the league noted that “Spring Training games are exhibition contests in which the primary focus of Clubs and players is to prepare for the coming season rather than to win games or perform at maximum effort on every single play.
“These games are not conducive to betting and carry heightened integrity risks, and states should not permit bookmakers to offer bets on them. Limited and historically in-person betting on Spring Training in one state did not pose nearly the same integrity risks that widespread betting on Spring Training in multiple states will pose.”
DGE pulled games while reviewing request
When the DGE received the league’s letter, several NJ sportsbooks, including DraftKings Sportsbook, had begun offering lines on spring training games.
In a statement, the state’s Office of the Attorney General acknowledged that the DGE received the MLB request.
Around the same time, the Nevada Gaming Control Board declined the league’s request. From its response:
“Based on our history and experience in regulating sports wagering, we are not inclined to prohibit our licensed sports books from taking wagers on MLB Spring Training games. We have a common goal to combat sports bribery and maintain the integrity of your sport, and are available to discuss ways we can work together in this effort.”
Not much concern surrounding ‘integrity risks’
To be fair, spring training does not generate much revenue. Nothing like the NFL preseason. Still, the MLB exhibition games have traditionally been offered at legal sportsbooks in Nevada.
Certainly, then, other states with regulated wagering would integrate spring training.
As noted, however, limits for betting on spring training remain relatively low. Any large bet on one of these games would theoretically come with a red flag.
In the end, New Jersey joins Nevada in denying the league’s request to prohibit spring training baseball.