New MLB Lineup Rule Impacts Bettors And May Give Oddsmakers An Edge

(USA TODAY Sports)

Sports betting is already impacted Major League Baseball.

Longtime, respected baseball writer Peter Gammons was first to report that each team’s lineup will first have to go to the commissioner’s office rather than the team’s own public relations department or to the media, per MLB’s gambling deal with MGM Resorts International, Gammons wrote. MLB and MGM announced a partnership back in November. But according to a source, MLB gaming partners will not neccesarily have access to lineups and umpire assignments any sooner than Joe Public (more on this), because the lineup and umpire info will become available to media and gaming partners at the same time.

“We are updating a number of our procedures to reduce integrity risks associated with the expansion of sports betting in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling last May,” MLB said in a statement. “One new procedure is that we now ask clubs to submit starting lineups in a uniform fashion in order to reduce the risk of confidential information being ‘tipped.’”

New rule impacts managers, bettors and DFS players

In the past, there were no official rules to posting team lineups. They were usually posted a few hours before the game and sent out on social media by beat writers or the team on its official web site. Now, starting lineups and umpire assignments will be disseminated through MLB’s official data feed. Per Darren Rovell of The Action Network, sources said the exact flow of how it will all operate is still being worked out.

​For both bettors and DFS players, alike, information and timing is paramount. So we will have to monitor how this “flow” works. If the public still has to wait for a media member or team to post the info, then the recipeints of the official data feed, via Sportradar, e.g. the sportsbooks, may well have information sooner.

The new rule will also impact managers and at least initially, not all of them are thrilled with the decision. One unnamed manager voiced his displeasure to Gammons about having to release lineups to Las Vegas before anyone else.

As always, it’s about integrity

As expected, MLB is citing concerns over the integrity of the league for making this decision. It’s certainly not the first time the integrity issue has come up with MLB or other sports leagues, as they attempt to get what is referred to as an “Integrity Fee” from states legalizing sports betting.

Recently, MLB submitted written requests to sportsbooks in Nevada and other states that offer sports betting, asking they stop taking wagers on spring training games. Nevada and New Jersey declined MLB’s request. Other states are reviewing it but continue to take bets on spring training games.

Will oddsmakers have an unfair advantage?

There are two ways to look at this from the standpoint of bettors and DFS players. On one hand, it may give oddmakers an advantage because they see the lineups first and get an opportunity to set the lines accordingly. Lineups used to filter out prior to the game, so diligent bettors and DFS players could get a head start if they knew the right places to look for lineups. Oddsmakers will be able to purchase the information from MLB. ESPN’s David Purdum said “I have not been told that bettors cannot purchase the feed.” If not, that will give sportsbooks an advantage over bettors that didn’t exist in the past.

On the other hand, this process could make gathering lineup information easier for everyone. With there now being a system to releasing MLB lineups, bettors and DFS players won’t have to piece together information at different times and and piece together lineup information. With a new uniform way to submitting lineups and umpire assignments, getting that information on a nightly basis would be easier than in year’s past, although if oddsmakers indeed having the opportunity to view lineups first is still a negative for sports bettors.

MLB has been one of the most active leagues when it comes to moving forward with sports betting. Besides its deal with MGM, MLB announced a partnership with sports data provider Sportradar. The deal allows Sportsradar to distribute MLB’s official real-time statistics to sportsbooks in regulated states.

About the Author

  • Thomas Casale (tcasale)

  • Thomas Casale is the Editor of Sports Betting Content for RotoGrinders. He's been following the sports betting industry for almost 30 years. Before coming to RotoGrinders, Thomas contributed to The Linemakers and worked as an editor at BetChicago. He's also provided fantasy sports analysis for multiple websites and print publications, while covering the NFL, college football, college basketball and MMA at different media outlets.