MLB Bans Players from Playing Fantasy Baseball Sites

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred (l.) and the MLB Player’s Association have reached an agreement to ban players from participating at fantasy baseball sites. The move comes even as the league and some teams have been signing marketing deals with online sites and doesn’t stop players from endorsing fantasy league companies.

Major League Baseball may be involved with online sports fantasy sites, but that hasn’t stopped the league—in agreement with the player’s union—from banning players from participating at the sites.

The league and the MLB players’ association have agreed to a deal that forbids players from playing in daily fantasy baseball games that involve a prize. The ban, however, doesn’t stop players from endorsing the fantasy league companies.

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has said that while he considers daily fantasy different from gambling, playing fantasy for prizes became part of Rule 21, which prohibits players from gambling. Players will be subject to discipline if they are found to have violated the rule.

ESPN, citing unnamed sources, reported that in the talks between the league and the players’ association, there was concern over conflict of interest—or at least the appearance of a conflict of interest—if players could affect the outcome and potentially make money off of it.

The deal does not stop players from playing fantasy baseball when there are no prizes and allows them to play fantasy sports other than baseball for prizes.

Players can also endorse a daily fantasy site and the players’ association can also sign deals with fantasy companies.

Major League Baseball acquired part of daily fantasy sports site DraftKings in 2013 when the site became the league’s official daily fantasy game.

Manfred recently told CNBC that the league does not consider fantasy games to be gambling.

“It’s not just my view, there’s a line in the law,” Manfred said. “And we understand that line very carefully. You know, before we did the deal with DraftKings we looked at all the games on their site, had them analyzed. We are comfortable that they are fantasy. We think the fantasy space is really, really important to us in terms of engaging young people.”

ESPN also reported that the league plans to extend the ban on playing fantasy baseball to all league personnel.