The first online sports betting app tethered to a Major League Baseball venue launched last week at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., and will be followed later this year by the opening of a retail sportsbook on the premises.
BetMGM launched its betting app with the Nationals on Thursday. The app can be accessed throughout the District of Columbia, but bets may only be placed within a two-block radius around the ballpark.
The retail sportsbook will be located in a converted team merchandise store connected to the stadium with a street entrance near the corner of N Street and S. Capital Street. The sportsbook will be open seven days a week, year-round. Fans at Nationals games will not be able to enter the sportsbook from inside the stadium, per current Major League Baseball rules.
A retail sportsbook opened at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. in late May, with William Hill becoming the first legal bookmaker to operate at a major sports venue in the U.S. The District of Columbia, along with Illinois, stipulated that sports venues could have sportsbooks in the jurisdictions’ sports betting regulations.
DraftKings is working to open a retail sportsbook at Wrigley Field in Chicago, but the Nationals appear poised to be the first MLB team to offer sports betting.
The launch of the BetMGM sportsbook app is the beginning of a balancing act for the Nationals that leagues and teams are attempting to navigate when it comes to the infusion of sports betting into the game-day experience. The Nationals want to participate in the new legal betting market, while not turning off any fans and families who aren’t interested in gambling.
“How do you bring sports betting into this environment but still maintain this family-first environment that we have?” Mike Carney, Nationals EVP of Business Ops and Strategy, said. “We have the sportsbook and it will be connected to the facility, but it is separate. You cannot go between the ballpark and the book on a game day. We’re still maintaining the boundaries, and that was very important for Major League Baseball, too, across the board.”
BetMGM, which was MLB’s first official betting partner, says it understands the leagues’ and teams’ desire to keep some degree of separation between the sportsbook and the general game-day experience.
“We have regular dialogue with Major League Baseball about how our advertising appears, where it appears, type of messaging we put forward to various segments of their fan base,” BetMGM chief revenue officer Matt Prevost told ESPN. “If customers have indicated interest in sports betting, then we can perhaps be more direct in our communication of offers that we put in front of them. If fans are just out with their family, wanting to see a baseball game, we’ll typically stick with brand-led advertising, just or the logo.”
Odds and ends
• Quote to note: “We have the most liability on the Giants (to win the World Series), by far. They are one of the biggest liabilities we’ve had on any MLB team in any season. They weren’t expected to make the playoffs, with two of the best teams in their division. But they’ve played so well and they opened at such a high number, the liability has just kept adding up since the keep betting them and betting them.” – Nick Bogdanovich, director of trading, William Hill U.S.
The Giants, who entered the season at 125-1 to win the World Series at William Hill, are now 10-1.
• The opening games of Euro 2020 attracted similar betting handle to a regular-season NHL game at William Hill U.S. sportsbooks, according to a company spokesperson, who added that soccer is the sport with the highest level of variance in terms of betting interest state to state. In New Jersey, the betting handle on the Euro games was similar to the amount bet on the average MLB game, while Iowa bettors were “not really interested,” the spokesperson said.
• “Gamble Responsibly America,” a new mobile app featuring educational resources and tools aimed at supporting anyone facing issue with problem gambling, launches Tuesday. The Entain Foundation U.S., a non-profit branch of international sports betting and gaming operator Entain, says the app will offer a self-assessment quiz, a gambling diary, behavioral callouts and a 24/7 live chat, among other tools to help gamblers manage their play.
“We are incredibly proud to be launching the Gamble Responsibly American application, as our commitment to responsible betting and gaming is unmatched within the industry,” Martin Lycka, Entain senior vice president, who oversees the company’s responsible gambling initiatives, said in a release announcing the launch of the app.
• In an effort to combat match-fixing, the Table Tennis Federation of Ukraine has partnered with Sport Integrity Team, an international organization that monitors odds and creates databases of all suspicious events. Betting on table tennis saw a significant increase in popularity in 2020, as the coronavirus took hold and shut down essentially all mainstream sports. The uptick in betting, however, coincided with a match-fixing scandal.
In May, Adam Michael Green, a former professional table tennis player, was charged with using corrupt information to bet, profiting from the proceeds of crime and proving corrupt information to two other people, according to the Australian Associated Press. Green was accused by authorities of placing 1,170 bets on table tennis matches “he knew to be fixed” from May 6, 2020 to Dec. 15, 2020. Australian authorities allege that Green profited approximately $337,000 from his wagers.
Settling in with Los Angeles Dodgers, Max Scherzer thrilled to have another ‘great chance to win’
For a few hours on Thursday, it seemed as if Max Scherzer was headed to the San Diego Padres. Reports began to circulate at around 1 p.m. PT that the Padres were on the verge of acquiring the three-time Cy Young Award winner with a little less than 24 hours remaining before the trade deadline. Scherzer, who had accepted the fact that his time with the Washington Nationals was coming to an abrupt end, heard rumblings from teammates. But he hadn’t yet received a call from Mike Rizzo, the Nationals’ general manager.
“Rumors are rumors until you actually get the phone call,” Scherzer said. “The fact that Twitter was going off and I hadn’t gotten a phone call, I knew something else was probably in the weeds. That’s what it is. You can’t always fall for Twitter, but Twitter usually is pretty good.”
Roughly four hours later, the Los Angeles Dodgers emerged as frontrunners to acquire Scherzer and his teammate, shortstop Trea Turner. By the end of the night, the deal was agreed to. On Friday, it was finalized. On Saturday, Scherzer joined the Dodgers in Phoenix. And on Wednesday, in the second of a highly anticipated two-game series against the Houston Astros, he’ll make his Dodgers debut.
“It’s fun to join these guys because we have a great chance to win,” Scherzer said, “but it’s gonna take a lot of work to get there. Nothing’s assured yet.”
Scherzer had the ability to veto any trade because of his 10-and-5 rights (10 years of major league service time, five consecutive years with the same organization). The Nationals’ 5-17 start to July gave Rizzo clarity that he needed to, in Scherzer’s words, “give a facelift to the organization to provide resources.”
Scherzer, 37, said he was driving himself “crazy” trying to decide his next course of action. Rather than selecting a team he wanted to be traded to, he provided a list of teams he would accept. Given that he would only be joining that team for two to three months, he wanted to ensure that he remained in the National League and that he pitched in a city with a warm climate. His last start for the Nationals came on Thursday afternoon, when he pitched six innings, largely to alleviate industry concerns over the triceps issue that had forced him to skip a prior turn through the rotation.
On a bus ride back from Philadelphia later that afternoon, he received word he was heading to the Dodgers, the reigning World Series champions who lead the majors in run-differential but trail the first-place San Francisco Giants by 3 1/2 games. Albert Pujols greeted Scherzer with a hug when he arrived in the clubhouse.
“Crazy,” Scherzer, speaking via videoconference from Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, said of what the last week has been like. “Crazy’s the understatement, too. It was a lot easier before kids and dogs and everything, but now with three kids and four dogs, life’s a lot more hectic. We’re picking the circus up from D.C. and trying to get it to L.A. as soon as possible.”
Scherzer — whose acquisition became almost a necessity because of the uncertainty that surrounds Trevor Bauer and his alleged sexual assault — joins a clubhouse that includes Clayton Kershaw, Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, David Price and Pujols, a sextet that has combined for six MVPs and seven Cy Young Awards.
From 2013 to 2021, Scherzer has accumulated 131 wins, eight invitations to the All-Star Game and a 2.86 ERA. Scherzer leads the majors in FanGraphs wins above replacement during that nine-year stretch with 48.4. Right behind him is Kershaw, who’s rehabilitation from a strained forearm has hit something of a lull, with 45.4.
“Obviously what he’s done in his career, it’s remarkable,” Scherzer said of Kershaw. “We came from the same draft class [in 2006], and everything he’s accomplished — it’s been great to compete against him. You push yourself to try and match what he can do. The fact that we’re now gonna be on the same team and get to compete for the same prize — I’m sure, as this keeps going along, we’ll be able to share more tips and tricks and just recognize different situations about how we both have evolved over the years of how we see the game now and how we can pitch around things.”
Scherzer comes to the Dodgers at the tail end of a seven-year, $210 million contract he signed with the Nationals in January of 2015. Scherzer’s performance somehow exceeded the expectations that came with that contract. The culmination came in 2019, when the Nationals defeated the Astros for the franchise’s first and only World Series championship. Scherzer’s departure now signals a drastic transition for the Nationals.
“The flags fly forever,” Scherzer said. “Everybody’s time in D.C., everybody’s hard work is to have the banner there. That’s something we’ll always remember. Happy I was a part of it, to be on those teams that were in the postseason but finally be on the team to punch it all the way through. At the end of the day, that’s why we play the game — to win the World Series.”
Los Angeles Angels, Joe Maddon hope to get Mike Trout before season ends, though his ‘timeline keeps getting pushed back’
Trout missed his 67th game since going on the injured list May 18 with a right calf strain. This is only the third time he has been on the injured list in his 11 big league seasons, and this is his longest stretch of missed games.
Trout, who turns 30 on Saturday, went on the injured list a day after he came up limping when he was on the bases in the first inning of a home game against Cleveland. He had been expected to miss six to eight weeks, but Tuesday marked 11 weeks since he was put on the injured list. Trout wasn’t with the team in Texas.
“Obviously, the timeline keeps getting pushed back,” Maddon said. “We all thought that he’d be playing right around now at the worst, and it’s not happening. We’ll keep playing it all the way through.”
With the Angels under .500 and in fourth place in the AL West with 55 games remaining after the second of four against the Rangers, Maddon was asked if there had been any thought of not having Trout try to return this season.
“He’s working really hard. He wants to get back, so we have not had a discussion of just giving up on him,” Maddon said.
When he got hurt, Trout was leading the major leagues with a .466 on-base percentage. He hit .333 with eight homers and 18 RBIs in 36 games.
Trout is in the third year of the $426.5 million, 12-year contract he signed during spring training in 2019. The overall value changed slightly when the pandemic shortened last season to 60 games, reducing his salary to $15 million from $36 million.
Tampa Bay Rays’ Tyler Glasnow to have Tommy John surgery Wednesday
Glasnow has been on the injured list since June 15. The 27-year-old right-hander went 5-2 with a 2.66 ERA in 14 starts.
The news was not unexpected.
Glasnow visited Dr. Keith Meister on Saturday, at which time Rays manager Kevin Cash said surgery was the likely outcome.
The decision was finalized after a follow-up examination Tuesday.
Tampa Bay began the day leading the American League East by one game over the Boston Red Sox despite having 15 pitchers on the IL.
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