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After MLB’s reckoning on sports betting offenders, what can leagues do to enforce the rules?

Rustin Dodd, Stephen J. Nesbitt, and Cody Stavenhagen, New York Times

When Major League Baseball announced a lifetime ban for San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano on Tuesday, the particulars of his wrongdoing were laid out in specific detail: 387 bets placed at legal sportsbooks, 231 wagers related to MLB and 25 on the Pittsburgh Pirates, his employer at the time. He allegedly bet more than $150,000 on baseball.

Marcano was not a particularly savvy bettor; according to MLB, he won just 4.3 percent of his wagers, most of them parlays. But the copious facts released by the league on Tuesday —  the same day Ippei Mizuhara, Shohei Ohtani’s ex-interpreter, pleaded guilty to bank and tax fraud — underscore a recurring theme as the sports world grapples with more blowback from the precipitous rise of legalized gambling in the United States.

In a majority of states, it’s never been easier to place a bet. But in a world of legal online sportsbooks and smartphones, it’s also never been easier for leagues to track the betting and, as they see it, protect the competitive integrity of the sport. In addition to Marcano’s lifetime ban, MLB announced year-long suspensions for Oakland A’s pitcher Michael Kelly and three minor leaguers — the Padres’ Jay Groome, the Philadelphia Phillies’ José Rodríguez and the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Andrew Saalfrank. All four were found to have placed bets on MLB while in the minors.

The announcement came, according to MLB, after an investigation that included interviews and cooperation from the league’s sportsbook partners, a process that offers a window into the monitoring system in place at legal sportsbooks. That system includes outside firms like U.S. Integrity, a monitoring service that works with major sports leagues and sportsbooks.

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