Tony Clark, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), has had his say on the recent increase in baseball-gambling relationships.
The Union exec candidly shared his thoughts with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BWAA) on Tuesday. The BWAA asked Clark if he was getting concerned with the increased encroachment of gambling in the world of professional baseball. “Getting? No. Is? Yeah. Has been? Sure,” responded the MLBPA head somewhat cryptically.
We’re entering a very delicate and, dare I say, dangerous world here”
Clark told the BWAA that the MLBPA hoped betting relationships would prove beneficial for the future of baseball. His reservations, however, far outweigh his optimism. “We’re entering a very delicate and, dare I say, dangerous world here,” Clark asserted.
Clark elaborated by noting that sports betting firms started following baseball players on social media immediately after the US Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2018, allowing states to pass betting legislation. Behavior like this “gets you a little twitchy pretty quick,” Clark said.
According to the Associated Press, Clark spoke to the BWAA ahead of Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
Clark is the first player to lead the union, having played for six baseball franchises over a 15-year career as a switch-hitting first baseman and designated hitter.
When lawmakers overturned PASPA on May 14, 2018, Clark was already five years into his MLBPA tenure. The union took to Twitter on the day of PASPA’s repeal with a statement from Clark. He said: “The realities of widespread sports betting must be addressed urgently […] to avoid putting our sport’s integrity at risk as states proceed with legislation.”
Fast-forward to 2022 and Clark is still preaching a similar message. He told the BWAA on Tuesday that “despite the fact that this train has left the station,” the MLBPA will continue its efforts to protect players from sports betting.
we’ll continue to pound the pavement in each of the state legislatures”
“And so we’ll continue to pound the pavement in each of the state legislatures that are continuing to push, that have language in place and those that don’t yet that are potentially coming online,” Clark stated.
MLB’s increased integration with the world of sports betting over the past year is clear to see. Perhaps most notably, US sportsbook operators have begun opening retail operations within MLB stadiums.
In February, BetMGM became the first sportsbook to launch within an MLB Stadium when it opened at Nationals Park in Washington DC. In June, Caesars opened one sportsbook just outside the Arizona Diamondback’s Chase Stadium, and another inside the New York Mets Citi Field stadium.
Next year, DraftKings intends to open a sportsbook at Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field.