Gambling scandal in Japan leads to the banning of three Yomiuri Giants players

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When it comes to sports and gambling, we’re definitely in a time of crazy, crazy transition in which whether it is illegal, regulated, monitored or completely normalized depends, quite literally, on where you stand. Three news nuggets regarding gambling and baseball from the past 18 hours or so make that quite clear.

The Japan Times reports that three Nippon Professional Baseball players have been banned by the league indefinitely following a gambling scandal. The three — Yomiuri Giants pitchers Satoshi Fukuda, Shoki Kasahara and Ryuya Matsumoto — admitted to gambling on NPB games, high school games and even U.S. Major League games. The team has been fined ¥10 million (~$81,000). No evidence has emerged that the three or anyone else was involved in fixing games, but links to organized crime are being investigated. Regardless, gambling on baseball is illegal in Japan in and of itself.

Meanwhile, Eric Fisher of Sports Business Daily reports that Major League Baseball entered into a partnership with a company called Sport Integrity Monitor, which monitors sports gambling markets for suspicious activity. Many European sports leagues have agreements with SIM — sports gambling is fairly ubiquitous in Europe — but Major League Baseball is the first North American sports league to do so. The idea, obviously, is to look for anomalies which could suggest that a fix is in, either in the gambling market, the game itself or both.

Finally, yesterday the New York Attorney General declared daily fantasy sports sites to be illegal online gambling operations and has ordered the companies not to accept entries from residents of New York state. This includes games run by Major League Baseball’s business partner DraftKings, and FanDuel, in which NBC Sports is invested and partnered.

Be careful out there, my risk-taking friends.