Major League Baseball (MLB) has hired London-based Sport Integrity Monitor (SportIM) to investigate suspicious gambling activity in professional baseball. The sport has its share of legal gambling and is among the top three favorites of sports bettors in Nevada, according to Bloomberg.
The partnership between the two organizations will “ensure that the integrity of MLB events remain beyond reproach,” SportIM said, in a statement Wednesday. It also said that the new partnership is “an extension of MLB’s tough anti-corruption policy.”
Dan Halem, MLB’s chief legal officer, said that the league's latest move was not triggered by a particular incident, but from "an abundance of caution," Bloomberg reported. "Given how important integrity is to sports, the price we’re paying is well worth it even if we have no reason to believe there’s any gambling going on," Halem reportedly added.
SportIM uses data from regulated and unregulated betting markets to discover trends that may suggest match-fixing, and will report its findings to MLB, which will then decide if there indeed was any foul play. MLB will also have access to high-end data, updated on a second-to-second basis, to help root out illegal wagering, according to ESPN.
Baseball is the third biggest draw for sports bookies in Nevada -- after football and basketball -- Bloomberg reported, citing the state’s Gaming Control Board. Bettors in Nevada reportedly wagered nearly $720 million on the sport last year. However, legal betting accounts for only 1 percent of all the money bet on the game, the report added, citing RJ Bell, founder of Pregame.com, a betting information website.
“This partnership will be an essential part of our initiatives to protect the game’s integrity. We look forward to making use of SportIM’s expertise and market-leading monitoring solutions in order to ensure that we have accurate and timely intelligence,” Halem said, in the statement.
Halem also said, according to Bloomberg, that MLB first started discussing the idea of having a sports monitor for after former Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Seeley joined the league to head its investigations department.
For SportIM, which opened its office in Washington early this year, the MLB deal is its first engagement in North America. The company currently works with soccer’s English Premier League and other major European leagues.