Shohei Ohtani Betting Scandal is Bad News Overall for California

This is the last thing that California sports betting proponents wanted to see with the push for legalization in full swing. In case you missed it, Major League Baseball has been rocked with yet another gambling issue, this time including one of the best players in the game, who happens to suit up for the Los Angeles Dodgers. That’s right, there’s no question that the Shohei Ohtani betting scandal is bad news overall for California.

In case you missed it, Ohtani fired his interpreter and longtime friend Ippei Mizuhara. According to multiple reports, Mizuhara was stealing money from Ohtani and wiring it to place bets. These weren’t small bets, though, as some wagers were over $1 million. Since the news broke, there have been countless allegations against Ohtani and the MLB announced that they’re investigating everything as well. Ohtani has denied any involvement with sports betting.

“I’ve never bet on baseball or any other sports or asked someone to do it on my behalf,” Ohtani said while speaking to the media in Los Angeles on Monday. “I’ve never asked a bookmaker to do it on my behalf. Up until a few days ago, I didn’t know this was happening. In conclusion, Ippei has been stealing money from my account and has told lies.”

Ohtani is sticking to his guns and claiming that he had no idea what was going on. However, countless people are worried that Ohtani might be trying to cover up a gambling problem. There’s plenty of speculation going on, but Ohtani has denied everything and he doesn’t want it to take away from Opening Day getting here on Thursday across the bigs. It will be interesting to see what comes of the investigation, but this is yet another black eye for the California sports betting push.

California is bracing for plenty of illegal MLB bets this season

What makes the Ohtani drama even worse is that California is bracing for plenty of illegal MLB bets this season. Entering the new season, the Dodgers have the best MLB betting odds to win the World Series. LA was a serious threat to get the job done last year, but they dropped the ball and posted an early playoffs exit. Now, though, they’ve signed Ohtani to his $700 million contract, making this team even better.

With all of that said, the betting scandal involving the face of the franchise is troubling for the Dodgers and this is going to be a major topic of conversation throughout the year. The Dodgers are hoping that this won’t be a major distraction for the club, but how could it not be when reporters are going to be asking Ohtani questions about this for the rest of the campaign? All in all, this is bad news for the NL West powerhouse.

In addition to the Dodgers, though, people in California are going to be focused on the LA Angels and San Diego Padres too. Because of the great amount of talent throughout the state, it’s surely going to lead to a lot of illegal wagers this spring. Then, things are only going to heat up in the summer and fall. If the Dodgers can win the NL Pennant and boost their World Series betting odds, the bets are going to be flowing in September and October.

It’s no secret that illegal betting in California has been an issue for years now, but there’s no sign of when things will be legalized. Officials and lawmakers know that the potential for betting revenue is through the roof, but people haven’t been able to get on the same page to make history for the state. Because of that, illegal wagers will only keep climbing in California until something changes, but no one knows when that’s going to happen.

Will California sports betting arrive by 2025?

A question a lot of people have on their minds is will California sports betting arrive by 2025? No one knows the answer to that, but a big problem we’re seeing right now is that people against legalization are using the Ohtani drama as an example of why the state shouldn’t move forward with the process.

Folks against legal betting have claimed addiction to be a major reason why sports betting in California would be a huge problem for so many people. However, the fact of the matter is that nearly 40 states in the USA have gotten things done and more states are looking to get things done in the next year. Will California?

That’s totally unknown, but all of the recent attempts to get the green light have failed. California has so many excellent pro and college teams, that it only makes sense for sports betting to be an option for its citizens. However, no one knows when things will get done, if ever. This has only raised plenty of frustration for sports fans in the area. If things don’t get done next year, then people may have to end up waiting until around 2027. That’d be a nightmare for everyone.

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Peter Lewis

Peter Lewis Jr. comes from Mississippi where he and his family spend their days discussing college football, baseball and basketball. He's written sports journalism for years after studying journalism at a local university. Over time, Peter has cultivated extensive knowledge covering sports betting legislation across the country. He closely tracks the latest regulatory developments and provides key insights into their impacts. Peter also offers sharp MLB betting analysis, leveraging stats and trends to identify value on matchups.