Each night, Major League Baseball games unfold in stadiums across the country, nine innings at a time, pitch by pitch. An ocean away, a network of computers whir, tracking every swing of the bat — and, perhaps just as important, every placement of a bet.
This season MLB has contracted with a London-based company to monitor gambling on baseball, using analytics, algorithms and proprietary software to ensure that nothing untoward is taking place that could compromise the sport’s integrity. Baseball officials stress that the security measure wasn’t prompted by any incident or specific suspicion.
“We just think it’s a prudent thing to do in this day and age. That’s it,” said Dan Halem, MLB’s chief legal officer.
The firm, Genius Sports, sends regular reports via email that show baseball betting trends. Less than two months into the season, “knock on wood, we haven’t had any problems come up,” Halem said.
Baseball is a popular bet for sports gamblers. Last year, more than $897 million was wagered on baseball games in Nevada sports books alone, trailing only football ($1.7 billion) and basketball ($1.2 billion), according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. While Nevada’s baseball betting numbers have nearly doubled in the past decade, gambling experts suspect millions and millions more are bet illegally each year.