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MLB Opens Sports Betting Investigation into Dodgers’ Star Shohei Ohtani

Written by: Michael Savio
Published March 27, 2024
6 min read
Dodgers’ Star Shohei Ohtani is Under Investigation by MLB

The MLB season kicks off later this week, but a major sports betting scandal took center stage over the last week.

The league has announced that they are officially opening an investigation into former MVP Shohei Ohtani. The new Los Angeles Dodger was dragged into the news cycle last week when his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, was fired for stealing money from Ohtanio to pay off over $4 million in gambling debts.

While athletes having money stolen isn’t new, this story is unique. When the news about Mizuhara originally came out, Ohtani’s camp said they willingly gave him the money to pay off the debts. However, their following public statement noted that the interpreter stole the money without Ohtani’s knowledge. 

The change in Ohtani’s story raised red flags for the MLB and fans across the globe. It caused some people to wonder if the gambling debt actually belonged to Ohtani, who was using Mizuhara to place bets to avoid detection by regulators. While there is no direct evidence that Ohtani had anything to do with Mizuhara’s betting, the change in story was enough for the MLB to launch an official investigation.

Ohtani addressed the scandal in a prepared statement on Monday.

"I never bet on baseball or any other sports or never have asked somebody to do that on my behalf, and I have never been through a bookmaker to bet on sports. " Ohtani said. "Up until a couple days ago, I didn't know that this was happening. ... In conclusion, Ippei has been stealing money from my account and has told lies."

Ohtani can still play and is expected to start this week during the Dodgers’ opening series.

Scandal Comes as Congress Looks to Curb Problem Gambling

The Ohtani scandal broke just days after lawmakers in Washington, D.C. began reviewing new legislation to curb problem gambling. The SAFE Bet Act would place federal regulations on how sportsbooks market themselves, the use of credit cards, and deposit limits. 

While the Act will face some pushback from sports betting operators in the US, recent sports betting scandals continue to fuel support for increased regulation. Between the Ohtani scandal, threats to athletes and coaches, and an uptick in problem gambling among underage players, it seems like the SAFE Bet Act could end up becoming law.

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Michael Savio

434 Articles

Michael is an avid sports fan and a veteran bettor from Milwaukee. He learned the trade from his grandfather in Las Vegas as a kid and has turned that into a successful career. He cheers for all Wisconsin pro teams along with his Alma Mater Arizona State. He specializes in baseball betting, but has experience in football, basketball, and hockey as well. When he isn’t pouring over stats, he’s spending time with his two young children.

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