Legal Sports Betting Is Why The Miami Marlins Are Worth $1.2 Billion
After two World Series titles and countless fire sales of stacked young rosters, the Miami (nee Florida) Marlins are up for sale. The asking price of 1.2 billion seems out of line for a team with among the consistently worst fan draws in the league, and according to Forbes, it’s overpriced by a whopping $260 million (or 80% of one Giancarlo Stanton). But according to one man in the know, that number actually makes sense. Why? Because of legal sports betting.
Former Major League Baseball commissioner Fay Vincent (1989-1992) explains that, in making the assessment that the Marlins are an overpriced mistake for any suitor approaching owner Jeffrey Loria’s asking price, most sportswriters are overlooking the fact that legalized sports betting is widely expected to become a reality nationwide once the Supreme Court smacks down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA, 1992). Such a contingency would surely see Marlins ownership – whoever they turn out to be – make an absolute mint.
How? Well, NBA commissioner Adam Silver points out that more fans tune in – and stay tuned in longer – when they’ve actually got skin in the game. Additionally and much more radically, current MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has gone so far as to indicate that the league may even support a “sponsorship”-type relationship with various sportsbooks. While it is not likely that new sports gambling regulations would have league kickbacks built into them, the MLB (and other leagues) will have plenty of other financial opportunities. Between more sponsors, more viewers, and more summary ad revenue, the MLB should be in a fine position to raise its take for each and every team under the league banner. (Also, don’t forget that the MLB engages in revenue sharing, so the increased exposure of any team affects all teams. The Marlins will be able to capitalize on the increased popularity that legalized sports betting brings not only to themselves, but to the New York Yankees and LA Dodgers, for example.)
It’s far from a sure thing that the Supreme Court will overturn PASPA or any related anti-gambling laws for sports betting states, but the odds seem stacked in our favor, and the Marlins are taking the bet.