Red Sox and MGM casino sponsorship agreement announced
By Rick McNair
The Boston Red Sox continue to seek sources for revenue and one rapidly growing source is gaming. Eventually, there will be issues since money invariable does just that.
The Boston Red Sox agreement with MGM casino is another level added to the connection between gaming and sports. The Red Sox are now immersed in the gaming culture with various agreements that could eventually compromise the baseball and all sports. What could possibly go wrong?
Pete Rose remains in baseball exile for the most horrendous of crimes that relate to the game and that is gambling on the sport – especially his own team. Rose was absolutely guilty and deserved the maximum penalty that then commissioner Bart Giamatti could deliver.
Baseball was a virtual centerpiece for the classic line “The fix is in” and cleaning of the hive was necessary after the infamous Black Sox Scandal that was hatched in Boston at the Hotel Buckminster that is just a fly ball away from Fenway Park. Rose, however, was just the last in a less than an illustrious string of players exiled for betting on the sport.
In my youthful days at Fenway Park, I became accustomed to the gamblers – a degenerate lot – entrenched in right field. Most were colorful characters that would be a perfect fit for a Damon Runyon story, but they would bet on everything and anything. One argument happened when a bet was made on just when the beer vendor would make his rounds. The “winner” had actually bribed the vendor.
How times change.
The Red Sox have not designated MGM Springfield the official casino of the Boston Red Sox. I am sure the Red Sox have officially tied to every possible marketing scheme to increase the cash flow. This agreement agreement ends a five-year deal with Foxwoods that can now advertise as the former official casino of the Boston Red Sox.
A connection to legalized gambling is not a sudden revelation as it has been ongoing for years if not decades. The government has long realized the opportunity to profit from our individual vices and failings and hence lotteries. The Red Sox have had a long relationship with the Massachusetts Lottery and other teams do likewise. You have to pay for those contracts somehow.
I am not on a moral rampage regarding gaming. I am not a prohibitionist who will seek out a lottery ticket dispenser with my Louisville Slugger. If you are adult enough, my part-time Libertarian side says indulge and accept personal responsibility, but there are individual consequences and consequences that could go beyond just the individual.
Government is not alone in attempting to extricate money from spending on foolish items such as food, clothing, and shelter. The aforementioned casino industry, whose only product is apparently wishful thinking, is also joined by the burgeoning fantasy sports industry so that you have multiple options to indulge. And multiple avenues for abuse.
Looking at baseball history and sports history regarding gambling and gaming, I wonder what the approach would be by Bart Giamatti? I am certain the former Commissioner Judge Landis would draw and quarter any owner with a connection. And Rose? Maybe a review is necessary?
What are the consequences?
Despite the enormous salaries doled out to professional athletes, a risk certainly exists to try to “game” the system either directly or indirectly. With online options, the challenge will be for hacker virtuosos such as what is occasionally accomplished with faux currency such as BitCoin.
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The lottery itself has been susceptible to various schemes to take shortcuts to riches and that will most certainly continue despite promised safeguards, but my focus is the game itself. The game – be it baseball, football, or bridge – has vulnerability by the players. Can players be bought? Can players be compromised?
Compromised and bought appear harsh terms, but just examine our social landscape for an answer. Can politicians be bought? Can companies compromise regulators? Or can agents be corrupt? Can college coaches be corrupt and prospects and their families willingly participate? You do not need Google to find those answers since it is a resounding yes.
Baseball is just not the major leagues but encompasses minor league teams and college teams. College scandals especially in basketball have a noted history and still surface. Money is attractive and with baseball will betting also filter to the lower levels? That is where a certain caution should take place with far lower salaries and possible lack of advancement to the majors offering tempting alternatives.
The gaming explosion will eventually create an issue since shortcuts to success – PED’s for example – or to money usually do. What will initially happen is outrage and eventually acceptance as we desensitize ourselves to the collateral damage.