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Report: MLB Releases Statement on Shohei Ohtani Investigation

MLB has released a statement in regards to the investigation by federal authorities who discovered more than $16 million out of Shohei Ohtani‘s bank accounts, prosecutors said.

“We are aware of the charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office against Mr. Mizuhara for bank fraud after a thorough federal investigation. According to that investigation, Shohei Ohtani is considered a victim of fraud and there is no evidence that he authorized betting with an illegal bookmaker. Further, the investigation did not find any betting on baseball by Mr. Mizuhara. Given the information disclosed today, and other information we have already collected, we will wait until resolution of the criminal proceeding to determine whether further investigation is warranted.”

MLB Releases Statement on Investigation

The longtime former interpreter of the two-way All-Star will be charged with felony bank fraud. Mizuhara used the money “largely to finance his voracious appetite for illegal sports gambling,” United States attorney Martin Estrada said during a news conference in Los Angeles. On March 20, federal authorities filed a criminal complaint against Mizuhara. The maximum sentence is 30 years in prison.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Mizuhara was negotiating with federal authorities to plead guilty. According to the complaint, Mizuhara manipulated Ohtani’s bank accounts beginning in 2021. This is around the same time that Mizuhara began wagering on sports. He had control over an account that collected Ohtani’s baseball salary. Mizuhara also impersonated Ohtani in conversations with bank officials, the complaint read which IRS senior special Chris Seymour wrote.

Allegations from the Complaint

Seymour writes that the first unauthorized transfer from the account appeared on November 15, 2021. It included a transfer “for $40,010 to, a PayPal service.” He says that debit transactions align with the timing of text messages between Mizhuara and a bookmaker discussing that amount. By May 2023, transfers were up to at least $500,00 each. Mizuhara placed almost 25 wages daily and lost nearly $41 million. The wagers were anywhere from $10 to $160,000 per bet with his winning bets totaling over $142 million. However, his losing bets were around $183 million, which is a loss of nearly $41 million. Winnings were not paid to Ohtani’s bank accounts despite those accounts being active to help pay off the debts.

Can MLB Players Bet?

Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement explains if players, including interpreters, can bet on baseball. Well, yes and no. Players can’t bet on baseball. The CBA is clear on this as if it weren’t already. According to the CBA, it spells out baseball’s sports betting policy with the first prohibited conduct being “No Betting on Baseball.” Players can’t bet on games including minor league games. Youth games, high school games or college or international games can’t be bet on either. If it involves baseball, they can’t bet on it. They can’t play fantasy baseball or even daily fantasy baseball.

Players can, however, bet on March Madness or participate in a fantasy football league. According to Michael Ginnitti of Spotrac, the CBA says this:

MLB players may place legal bets on sporting events other than Baseball Games and Baseball Events in jurisdictions in which such bets are legal, provided that the person placing the bet is eligible under applicable law to place the wager. Similarly, MLB players may participate in legal fantasy games relating to sports other than baseball for prizes or other things of value.

Main Photo: © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports



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