Sports gambling hot topic at Sloan Conference

The MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference has become an increasingly important event in the sports community, having in large part revolutionized the approach taken by professional sports teams regarding their day-to-day businesses both on and off the playing area. But one question posed at this year’s conference paints a picture on how analytics can have a sophisticated effect on sports betting.

 Make no mistake; gambling, at its core, is inherently analytical, but there’s still a heavy appetite for increased coverage on this front. That’s a big reason why sports gambling was heavily discussed at the conference, specifically the way analytics can have an effect towards legalizing sports gambling in the US.

One of the key items was discussed by Florida State professor Ryan Rodenberg, who suggested that a heavy and sophisticated dose of analytics could quell fears of fraud and match fixing. Rodenberg pointed out that outside the US, a handful of private firms like Sportradar already specialize in this kind of analytics and it’s already being used by a wide variety of sports leagues and associations all over the world.

During the same conference, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred also took time to discuss his stance on legalizing sports gambling in the US. While he admits that the topic is complicated enough on its own right, he also acquiesced to the growing reality that there are inherent benefits in legalizing sports betting, especially with a sport like baseball that has seen its popularity wane in recent years.

Having that legalized betting element could drive up interest in the sport without circumventing any rules that would, as all these commissioners are so used to saying, “ruin the integrity of the sport.”

“I think that enough has happened that it’s incumbent upon me and my staff to take to the owners the developments in this area, to have a conversation about some of the rules that go beyond the play of the game on the field that we’ve had traditionally in baseball and revisit those,” the MLB commish added.

Manfred also took time to acknowledge his NBA counterpart for “starting the debate” on the issue, and while he doesn’t whole-heartedly embrace everything Adam Silver said, he agreed with Silver’s proposition that a universal federal system to govern sports gambling is the way to go, if it does end up going there.

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