The state of Indiana gave its sportsbooks the option to take bets on Korean professional baseball the same day ESPN announced a deal to broadcast the games live.
On Monday, the Indiana Gaming Commission updated its list of approved sports for wagering to include the Korean Baseball Organization. It’s the first international baseball league on the list, as the IGC previously approved minor league baseball, Major League Baseball, and NCAA Division 1 baseball.
The KBO, founded in the early 1980s, reportedly is the most popular sports league in South Korea.
Also on Monday, ESPN announced that it reached a deal to broadcast KBO games live starting early Tuesday morning. The contests will “generally air” on ESPN 2, Tuesdays through Sundays in the early morning hours. ESPN is the exclusive English-language home for the KBO’s 2020 season.
The arrangement comes as MLB makes moves to have a 2020 season, but nothing has been finalized.
The KBO season begins with the NC Dinos vs. Samsung Lions, which will air on ESPN on May 5 at 1 a.m. ET.
“The KBO League is one of the greatest baseball leagues with world-class players and many exciting initiatives,” Un-Chan Chung, commissioner of the KBO, said in a statement. “During this unprecedented and difficult time, I hope the KBO League can bring consolation to the communities and provide guidelines to the world of sports. I am pleased that the KBO League can be introduced globally and hope this can be an opportunity for the development of our league and the sport.”
Boost to Indiana books
Indiana is one of 10 states in the country with legal online/mobile sports betting. The Hoosier State’s industry, like all the others, will benefit from live baseball on TV. It’s expected that other states will follow in approving wagering on the KBO, if they haven’t done so already.
The sports betting handle in Indiana fell 60% month-over-month in March, thanks to the sports world coming to a near standstill due to the COVID-19 crisis. In the meantime, books have offered wagering on some international soccer, table tennis, darts, and the NFL Draft.
On May 9, the sports betting industry will welcome the return of the UFC with a live event in Florida.
For now, the books have their eyes set on early Tuesday. The NC Dinos are a slight favorite at DraftKings against the Lions. FanDuel, PointsBet, BetRivers, and BetMGM will also take bets on KBO games.
There are 10 teams in the KBO. It’s unclear when the season, which was delayed due to COVID-19, will conclude. Traditionally, teams each play more than 140 games.
ESPN just signed a deal to broadcast Korean baseball and that might be the only pro sports we have for a while. I’ve been a lifelong SK Wyverns fan since 8:30 this morning. Who’s your squad? pic.twitter.com/D6y9wxYvCy
— Dylan Park-Pettiford (@dyllyp) May 4, 2020