Ohio Lawmakers Want Pete Rose Sports Betting Ban Overturned

Written By Dan Holmes on May 6, 2024
Pete Rose Ban Ohio Sports Betting

A pair of Ohio lawmakers have co-sponsored a resolution that appeals to end Pete Rose’s permanent ban from Major League Baseball.

Ohio State Representatives Bill Seitz and Tom Young have submitted a resolution that aims to influence MLB commissioner Rob Manfred in hopes of seeing Rose’s status changed.

Ohio Lawmakers Want Pete Rose MLB Ban Overturned

Since resolutions have no force of law, the State House resolution being proposed in Ohio would be basically ceremonial. It would remain on the official record and require a simple majority to pass.

Before Ohio sports betting became legal, Rose was banned from MLB in 1989. The ban came after Rose was accused of placing bets on baseball, including games he managed. Rose accepted his placement on MLB’s permanently ineligible list because he could petition for reinstatement after one year. However, four official appeals have gone unanswered by three different commissioners.

While the National Baseball Hall of Fame determines its own election rules independent of Major League Baseball, it does not permit any person on MLB’s permanently ineligible list to be on their ballot. As a result, Rose, who is baseball’s all-time hits leader, is not eligible for the Hall of Fame. The actions of Seitz and Young are largely an effort to get Rose into the Hall of Fame. Rose is 83 years old and has made it clear he desires a plaque in Cooperstown, home of the Hall of Fame.  

Rose admitted guilt in 2014

When Rose accepted his ban in 1989, he lost his job as manager of his hometown Cincinnati Reds. In his career wearing a Cincinnati uniform, Rose helped the team to four appearances in the World Series and two titles. He was the 1973 National League Most Valuable Player, and collected his MLB record 4,192nd hit on September 11, 1985. He led the team as a player/manager from 1984-86 and for portions of three more seasons. 

For years, Rose insisted he never bet on baseball, only college sports and professional football. But, in 2004 he finally admitted that he had placed bets on MLB, including games he was playing and managing for the Reds. The timing of his admission was met with criticism: Rose’s autobiography was being released. Some critics, including former teammate Johnny Bench, have shown no sympathy for Rose’s plight.

In 2022, the most recent time that Rose appealed to MLB for reinstatement, Manfred did not formally respond for the league, but did comment at the 2023 All-Star Game that Rose had “violated rule number one in baseball” and “the consequences of that are clear.”

Any reinstatement now would almost certainly be to allow Rose to appear on a Hall of Fame ballot. It’s unlikely any team would hire him in an official capacity, though the man known as “Charlie Hustle” is still extremely popular in Cincinnati.

Legal sports betting expansion brings bans into question

Rep. Seitz called MLB “hypocritical” for keeping Rose on the ineligible list. According to Seitz, MLB’s official partnerships with sportsbooks indicate a willingness to cozy up to gambling. That stance is a stark contrast to the way baseball treated betting in the late 1980s, when Rose was the subject of an investigation that led to his banishment.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned bans on sports betting in 2018, more than 35 states now have legal markets. In 2019, FanDuel became MLB’s official sports betting partner. In 2022, the Cincinnati Reds made BetMGM its official sports betting partner. 

The irony that BetMGM advertisements are seen at Great American Ballpark, but Rose cannot attend games without permission because he was banished for gambling, sparks debate among sports fans.

However, MLB has never wavered in its enforcement of gambling infractions. MLB Rule 21(d) section 2 states “any player, umpire, or Club or League official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform, shall be declared permanently ineligible.”

So far, no person has been banned for betting on his own games by MLB, though minor league players have been suspended for one year for betting on baseball games they were not involved in.

NBA, NFL, NHL have all faced recent betting ban issues

Ohio took a step to protect college athletes earlier this year, banning player prop betting in an effort to curb athlete harassment and game-fixing. When it comes to protecting the integrity of each sport, that’s left up to the leagues themselves.

Similar rules are echoed through each major sporting league, with most leagues calling for a permanent ban if an official, player, or manager/coach wagers on games in which they have a role. For instance, the NBA permanently banned Jontay Porter this season when it became clear he had wagered on his own games and performance. The NFL has also suspended a few players for gambling on other sports — a violation of its league rules.

This spring, Dodgers’ superstar Shohei Ohtani became embroiled in a gambling controversy when it was revealed that his interpreter, an employee of the team and personal friend, had used money he stole from the LA slugger to pay his debts to an illegal sportsbook. When federal authorities classified as a “victim,” MLB determined that an investigation was not warranted. But to some skeptics, the Ohtani issue underscores the seeming hypocrisy of gambling and baseball in regards to what they feel is a harsh penalty for Rose.  

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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is a contributor for PlayOhio with plenty of experience under his belt. Dan has written three books about sports and previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He also has extensive experience covering the launch of sports betting in other states, including Ohio and Maryland, and the sports betting props — Prop 26 and Prop 27 — in California. Currently, Dan is residing in Michigan with his family.

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