MLB gambling scandal explained: Padres' Tucupita Marcano gets lifetime ban for baseball bets, others punished (2024)

San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcanohas been permanently banned from Major League Baseball after violating the league's gambling policy, MLB announced on Tuesday. Marcano's ban was accompanied by one-year suspensions for four other players: Oakland Athletics reliever Michael Kelly and minor-league players Jay Groome (Padres pitcher), José Rodríguez (Philadelphia Phillies infielder) and Andrew Saalfrank (Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher).

MLB received data from a legal sports betting operator concerning baseball gambling activity from accounts that belonged to the above players, the league announced. Under MLB's rules, personnel are allowed to partake in sports gambling provided that it is legal in their jurisdiction and that they do not bet on diamond sports -- that is, baseball or softball. Each player violated the second part of that.

None of the players are appealing their suspension.

"The strict enforcement of Major League Baseball's rules and policies governing gambling conduct is a critical component of upholding our most important priority: protecting the integrity of our games for the fans," commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "The longstanding prohibition against betting on Major League Baseball games by those in the sport has been a bedrock principle for over a century. We have been clear that the privilege of playing in baseball comes with a responsibility to refrain from engaging in certain types of behavior that are legal for other people. Since the Supreme Court decision opened the door to legalized sports betting, we have worked with licensed sports betting operators and other third parties to put ourselves in a better position from an integrity perspective through the transparency that a regulated sports betting system can provide. MLB will continue to invest heavily in integrity monitoring, educational programming and awareness initiatives with the goal of ensuring strict adherence to this fundamental rule of our game."

The Pirates, for their part, issued the following statement:

"We are extremely disappointed of Tucupita's actions and are fully supportive of Major League Baseball's ruling. The Pirates, along with MLB, Players Association, and every club, work to ensure all involved within our game are aware of the rules and policies around gambling. While the thorough investigation revealed no evidence of any games being compromised, influenced, or manipulated in any way in this case, protecting the integrity of our game is paramount."

Here's what you need to know about Marcano, the other players, and MLB's history of gambling penalties.

Marcano banned for life

Marcano, 24, was signed by the Padres as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela in 2016. He was traded to the Pirates in 2021 with Jack Suwinski for Adam Frazier and last November went back to the Padres on waivers. He hasn't played a game since last July after tearing his ACL.

MLB's investigation found that Marcano didn't just bet on baseball frequently -- he's claimed to have gambled more than $150,000 across nearly 400 baseball bets, including on MLB and international contests -- but that he even bet on his own team, then the Pirates. "[Almost] all of Marcano's Pirates bets were on which club (the Pirates or their opponent) would win the game or whether there would be more or less than a certain number of runs scored in the game," MLB said in a press release.

It's notable that Marcano did not appear in any of the games that he bet on because of his injury. He also denied having inside information that influenced his bets. MLB estimates that he won just 4.3% of his MLB-related gambles.

Other players didn't bet on own games

As for the other players -- Kelly, Groome, Rodríguez, and Saalfrank -- they all placed bets on MLB games that they were not part of themselves. They did, however, bet on games played by their organization's major-league team while they were in the minors. None of them bet on baseball with the frequency that Marcano, either.

Here's a complete breakdown of the data MLB provided on the four players' bets:

PlayerMLB betsAverage $ per betNet

















Kelly, 31, is the most notable of the bunch given that he was a member of the Athletics' active roster. In 28 games this season, he had amassed a 2.59 ERA (151 ERA+) and a 2.20 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Kelly, then with the Astros' Triple-A team, placed 10 bets on nine MLB games (including three Houston games) between Oct. 5, 2021 through Oct. 17, 2021. In total, he bet $99.22 and won five of the bets, putting him at a net win of $28.30.

Groome, assigned to the Red Sox's High-A team, made 32 bets on MLB games between July 22, 2020 through July 24, 2021, including 24 on Boston games. He bet $453.74 and lost $433.54. He received payouts on just two bets.

Rodríguez, who was playing for the White Sox's Double-A team, made 31 baseball bets on Sept. 30, 2021, and from June 5, 2022 through July 30, 2022, including on several college baseball games. In total, he bet $749.09 on baseball, $724.09 of which went to MLB-related bets.

Saalfrank, who was on the injured list in the Diamondbacks' Low-A affiliate, made 28 MLB-related bets and one on college baseball games between Sept. 9, 2021 and Oct. 29, 2021 and on March 9, 2022. He bet $445.87 on baseball, with $444.07 of that on MLB-related bets. He had a net loss of $272.64 on MLB bets, losing all but five of his bets. He also lost his $1.80 college bet. Saalfrank pitched in two games in the majors for the Diamondbacks this year and in the 2023 playoffs for Arizona, including three games in the World Series.

MLB's gambling policy

As noted in the introduction, MLB allows personnel to gamble on sports provided that it's legal in their territory and that it's on non-diamond sports. The individuals suspended on Tuesday were found to have violated Rule 21, which features two notable points.

The first, violated by the non-Marcano players, 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 no duty to perform, shall be declared ineligible for one year."

The other, violated specifically by Marcano, 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."

Other MLB gambling scandals

Earlier this season, Ippei Mizuhara -- Shohei Ohtani's former interpreter -- was charged with stealing more than $16 million from Ohtani to pay off gambling debts to an illegal bookie. He faces a maximum of 33 years in prison. Braves minor-leaguer David Fletcher is also being investigated by MLB for placing bets with the same illegal bookmaker that Mizuhara used. Neither Mizuhara nor Fletcher is alleged to have gambled on baseball, but betting on any sport through illegal channels is also forbidden by MLB. Earlier this year, CBS Sports delved into more detail on other historical baseball gambling scandals.

MLB gambling scandal explained: Padres' Tucupita Marcano gets lifetime ban for baseball bets, others punished (2024)


MLB gambling scandal explained: Padres' Tucupita Marcano gets lifetime ban for baseball bets, others punished? ›

MLB said Marcano placed 387 baseball bets totaling more than $150,000 in October 2022 and from last July through November with a legal sportsbook. The 24-year-old Venezuelan with 149 games of major league experience became the first active player in a century banned for life because of gambling.

What did Marcano bet on? ›

Marcano's 387 baseball bets included international games and 231 MLB-related wagers for $87,319 from Oct. 16-23, 2022, and from last July 12 through Nov. 1. Twenty-five of those bets included wagers on Pirates games while he was on the team's major league roster.

What is the MLB gambling suspension? ›

Any player, umpire, or official betting on a baseball game in which they have no duty to perform will be declared ineligible for one year. Betting on a game in which the individual has a duty to perform results in permanent ineligibility.

How to interpret baseball odds? ›

Positive Odds: If a team has positive odds, such as +150, it means that a $100 bet on that team would result in a potential profit of $150. The higher the positive number, the greater the potential payout. Negative Odds: If a team has negative odds, such as -200, it indicates the amount you need to bet to win $100.

Why was gambling such a large part of baseball? ›

Players weren't paid a regular salary, they earnt their money through betting. Gambling was such a big feature of baseball that modern day fans would likely have a difficult time recognising the sport as it was then compared to today.

Who was banned from MLB for gambling? ›

San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano has been permanently banned from Major League Baseball after violating the league's gambling policy, MLB announced on Tuesday.

Who is Sal Marcano based on? ›

Trivia. Sal was inspired by the real life mob boss Carlos Marcello, who was the leader of the New Orleans crime family in the 1960s.

Why can't MLB players bet on games? ›

Baseball Rule 21 — many players and managers can cite it by number — says: “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.”

What happens to my bet if a race is suspended? ›

If a race is postponed to another day, bets placed in the AntePost book will stand, providing the initial entry stage is not re-opened, in which case bets are void.

What is the MLB debt rule? ›

Debt levels under the MLB Trust leaguewide credit facility (LWCF) program are moderate at $125 million per club, following an increase from $100 million per club to $125 million in 2021. The MLB Facility Fund debt limits remain set at $100 million per club.

What does h mean in baseball? ›

Hit (H) Home Run (HR) Intentional Walk (IBB) Left On Base (LOB) On-base Percentage (OBP)

Does home or away bat first? ›

How do you place players in the batting order in baseball? The home team always bats last. They do this because if the team goes into its last inning trailing the visiting team, they have the last opportunity to score runs and win the game.

How do you know if odds are good or bad? ›

The odds for favorites are accompanied by a minus (-) sign and indicate the amount you need to stake to win $100. Conversely, the odds for the underdogs are accompanied by a positive (+) sign and indicate the amount you might win for every $100 you stake.

Why is baseball not a monopoly? ›

On May 29, 1922, the US Supreme Court ruled on the case of Federal Baseball Club of Baltimore v National League of Professional Baseball Clubs and decided that professional baseball was exempt from Anti-Trust Acts because the operations did not qualify as interstate commerce (Levitt, 1922).

Which sport makes the most money gambling? ›

Most Profitable Leagues to Bet On
  • NFL.
  • College Football.
  • NHL.
  • College Basketball.

What baseball player was known for gambling? ›

Earlier this week Major League Baseball banned San Diego Padre Tucupita Marcano for life for betting on his own team—the first time a player has been banned for life since Pete Rose in 1989.

Why did Sal Marcano betray? ›

Sal Marcano is sick of being a mobster and wants to protect his son from danger by going legitimate, so he betrays the Black Mob and makes an enemy of Lincoln Clay who dismantles his empire before killing his son, then potentially him.

Where is Tucupita Marcano from? ›

Personal life. Marcano was named after his birthplace, the Venezuelan city of Tucupita. Tucupita is also his father Raul's nickname.

Who played Sal Marcano? ›

In 2016, he acted in the motion capture video game Mafia III (2016), playing Mafia boss Sal Marcano. In 2017, Acovone was asked to perform the audiobook version of George R. R. Martin (Game of Thrones (2011))'s novel, "Wildcards-Dead Man's Hand", along with Adrian Paul.

Can MLB players bet on sports? ›

Players are allowed to bet on any sport but baseball, and many of them do. Increased access to betting apps on smartphones and increased advertising for those apps do not cause players to throw common sense to the wind. “They're a lot more adamant about it now.

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