Major League Baseball bans Padres’ Marcano for life, suspends four others

Four other players, including Oakland Athletics pitcher Michael Kelly, were suspended for up to a year, according to Prior to Tuesday, every other major professional sports league had banned at least one player. Marcano becomes the second player in a US pro league to be handed a lifetime ban this year. On 17 April, the NBA banned Jontay Porter for life after it was discovered that he had bet on the NBA and had shared personal health information with another bettor.

Last year, the NFL suspended 10 players for up to a year for various violations of league gambling rules. All have since been reinstated. The NHL suspended Shane Pinto for violating league rules last October. In addition, the PGA Tour last October suspended two players for breaking Tour gambling policy.

According to MLB’s Rule 21, league employees are subject to a lifetime ban for betting on their own team. Betting on other teams results in a year-long suspension.

Legal operators identify violations

In most, if not all, cases the violations were uncovered by legal operators that the players were betting with. In Porter’s case, DraftKings reported suspicious wagering activity to the NBA, which then opened an investigation. In the baseball cases, an unnamed legal operator reported suspicious activity to MLB in March, according to The Wall Street Journal on Monday (3 June) broke the story that MLB was investigating five players. Punishments were announced a day later.

MLB’s investigation included contact with more than one legal sportsbook, including “authentication data” for bets. None of the players are appealing the suspensions.

“MLB will face a reckoning on gambling. Tucupita Marcano’s lifetime ban is just the beginning.” (via @usatodaysports)

— Dan Nowicki (@dannowicki) June 4, 2024

The Padres’ Marcano, who has not played in an MLB game since July 2023, was with the Pittsburgh Pirates when he wagering. Betting is legal in Pennsylvania and in Indiana, where he played some games for the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians affiliate.

Sportsbook data reveals Marcano made 387 baseball bets, including 231 on MLB games. Twenty-five bets were on Pirates games while he was still on the roster. Marcano did not play in any of the games he bet on. Marcano’s bets were mostly parlays and he bet more than $150,000 on baseball.

A’s player bet less than $100

Data also revealed that Kelly placed 10 bets for a total of $99.22 between 5-17 October 2021 while he was with the Houston Astros. Kelly had a net win of $28.30, did not bet on any games he played in or any Astros games.

The Padres and A’s released statements saying they were “disappointed” that players on their rosters violated league rules. The teams were clear that the violations happened before the players joined their respective teams. Both teams said they support MLB’s betting policies and punishment.

“The strict enforcement of Major League Baseball’s rules and policies governing gambling conduct is a critical component of upholding our most important priority: protecting the integrity of our games for the fans,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “The longstanding prohibition against betting on Major League Baseball games by those in the sport has been a bedrock principle for over a century. We have been clear that the privilege of playing in baseball comes with a responsibility to refrain from engaging in certain types of behaviour that are legal for other people.”

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