ALBANY — Former Yankees manager Joe Torre ventured to the State Capitol Monday to talk sports betting, saying that, while he’s not necessarily in favor of it, it’s coming “like the snowball rolling downhill.”
Torre, who serves as chief baseball officer for Major League Baseball, stressed that he’s urging lawmakers to create a strong regulatory framework to protect sports’ integrity.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law that had prohibited sports betting everywhere save for Nevada (and some small exceptions). States around the nation are scurrying to draft regulations, while some are urging Congress to act. New York legislators are weighing a sports betting bill.
“I’m not trying to lobby one side or the other. I’m just trying to take care of our game,” said the former Yankees and Mets manager, 1971 National League Most Valuable Player and member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Torre acknowledged it’s a difficult subject because baseball historically had such strong gambling prohibitions. But circumstances have changed, he noted.
“Whether you are for it, or against it, you can’t ignore it,” Torre told reporters. “It’s like the snowball rolling downhill. It’s something you can’t ignore.”
Torre met with state legislators, as well as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, although that was for lawmakers’ annual “Italian-American Day” celebration, a Cuomo aide said.
Torre’s appearance comes one week after former Yankees manager Joe Girardi, now an executive with MLB television, came to Albany to deliver a similar message.
But it won’t have any impact on the outcome of the issue, a key senator said.
“For many of the members, it’s a pleasant experience to meet Joe Girardi or Joe Torre,” said Sen. John Bonacic (R-Mount Hope), chairman of the Senate Racing and Wagering Committee. “But I don’t think it will have any effect on moving a bill.”
Bonacic said the Senate could debate his proposal to authorize sports betting next week. The Democratic-led Assembly isn’t moving that quickly.
MLB, like the National Basketball Association, is asking for a cut of every dollar bet on its games — 0.25 percent for MLB, 1 percent for the NBA. It’s also asking legislators to outlaw certain types of bets that would be susceptible to rigging, such as whether the first pitch is a ball or strike, and to ban any betting on minor league baseball.
The state legislative session is scheduled to end June 20.