US betting operators breathe sigh of relief with MLB season cleared to begin after labour dispute lockout

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The uncertainty surrounding the start of the new Major League Baseball (MLB) season is over after franchise owners and players agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement.

The sport had been on hold for 99 days due to a bitter labour dispute, which saw the first two weeks of the 2022 season cancelled when peace talks broke down in December.

Owners instigated a lockout, triggering the first work-related break in the sport for 26 years, going back to the players’ strike of the 1994-95 season.

The newly agreed deal will last for five years. It includes the creation of a pre-arbitration bonus pool of $50m and a minimum salary cap of $700,000.

The players’ board voted 26-12 in favour of the deal, while the executive subcommittee voted 8-0 against the deal. Teams voted overwhelmingly in favour at 26 out of 30, with only the Mets, Yankees, Astros and Cardinals in opposition.

The current campaign was scheduled to begin on 31 March, but the opening day has now been moved to 7 April, with spring training to begin immediately.

US betting operators will be delighted that MLB has managed to break the deadlock.

The league has scored multiple sports betting partnership contracts with companies including FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM since PASPA was repealed in 2018.

The DraftKings deal means that fans of the sport with both DraftKings and MLB.com accounts are able to live-stream MLB games for free via the DraftKings app.

During last week’s investor day, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins was asked whether cancellation of the 2022 baseball season would impact the operator’s bottom line.

“MLB is an important sport for us,” said Robins. “From a customer acquisition standpoint, it’s a decent sport, but not one of the biggest. But given there are so many games, it is an important monetisation sport.

“There will be some effect if there’s a cancellation, but we don’t have any reason to believe there’ll be a cancellation. Right now, there have only been a couple of series per team cancelled. If that’s all that happens, we don’t expect to have any material impact.

“The guidance we’ve issued is unchanged, so we’ll just have to wait and see, but our hope certainly is that there is not a long-term cancellation and I think it would be a very unfortunate thing for baseball and for the players if the whole season got cancelled.

“I’m confident they both know that and will make sure that that it doesn’t happen,” he added.

About the author

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Jake Evans

Jake Evans is an NCTJ-accredited journalist and editor who has covered the online gaming and sports betting industry since 2017. He is the managing editor of iGaming NEXT and has previously worked in both content and data for EGR, Stats Perform and Football Radar.

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