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Padres’ Tucupita Marcano banned for life for betting on baseball games


Padres’ Tucupita Marcano banned for life for betting on baseball games

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. Marcano’s ban was accompanied by one-year suspensions for four other players, includiing 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 revealed that it received data from a legal sports betting operator concerning baseball gambling activity from accounts that belonged to the above players. 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.

MLB’s press release revealed the following as part of its investigation into Marcano’s gambling:

In total, Marcano bet more than $150,000 on baseball, with $87,319 of that on MLB-related bets (an average of approximately $378 per bet). Of the over 200 MLB bets Marcano placed over this period, 25 of those bets included Pirates games while he was assigned to the Pirates’ Major League Club. Marcano did not appear in any of the games on which he placed bets, however, because all of Marcano’s Pirates-related bets, and the vast majority of his bets overall, occurred during the period after he suffered a season-ending knee injury on July 24, 2023 and was receiving medical treatment at PNC Park.   

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 in 2024 due to a torn ACL. 

MLB rules stipulate that players are permitted to legally gamble on non-diamond sports, but they cannot gamble on baseball or softball at any level. A player caught gambling on teams other than his own faces a one-year suspension for a first offense and a lifetime ban if he’s found having gambled on his own team, as Marcano was found to have done.

“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.”

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. 

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