Engagement is very much the keyword for Boston Red Sox president and chief executive officer Sam Kennedy when discussing how the franchise, and the wider Major League Baseball community, is to adapt to the US’ sports betting scene, reports the Boston Herald.
Just last week the MLB aligned itself with casino giant MGM Resorts, a day after Boston’s home state of Massachusetts saw its Rhode Island neighbour begin its own sports betting journey, with Lincoln’s Twin River Casino debuting the Ocean State’s activity.
Despite not yet being formally legalised within Massachusetts, the MLB’s deal with MGM, who recently opened its Springfield Hotel and Casino in the region, does not prevent team’s from striking their further deals of their own, with Wynn Resorts also trying to clear the final regulatory hurdles regarding its Encore Boston Harbor project.
The possibilities of increased revenues could come in many guises, but Kennedy believes that benefit could well play second fiddle: “Yes, there will be a positive revenue impact for the team – how much I don’t know – but that is absolutely secondary in my opinion to the (increased) engagement, to people following, paying attention, being engaged with the Boston Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins and Celtics as a result of betting on that sport and betting on in-game activities.”
With such a vast offering, encapsulating 2,430 MLB games between April and September, adding up to more than 7,300 hours of live programming, Kennedy emphasised the need for a regulated market to eradicate the problem of such an overwhelming illegal market: “It’s more overall interest in watching games, being connected to the game. What’s going to happen between a pitcher a batter at this very moment, what will this outcome be – you can see in the future where that all can happen very fast in real time.
“If there’s a game that’s 10-1 in the seventh inning, people might tune out but the thought is now that you’ll stay in, watching, because you’re engaging in betting on the outcome of what may happen.
“That’s happening today, it’s just in illegal fashion with non-licensed, non-regulated betting providers – off-shore or in other countries. The regulation is important, there is nothing more important to the commissioner and the leagues than the integrity of the game. Players, front office members will not be allowed to engage in these activities. The general public will.”