MLB opens formal probe into betting scandal surrounding Shohei Ohtani


Major League Baseball launched a formal investigation into the sports betting scandal surrounding Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani and his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, it announced Friday.

Baseball was rocked Wednesday by competing articles in ESPN and the Los Angeles Times, which reported that the Dodgers fired Mizuhara amid vague allegations of “massive theft” connected to payments to an illegal bookie. While Mizuhara insisted the gambling debts were his, his story shifted as to whether Ohtani knew about them. MLB players and employees are barred from placing bets with illegal bookmakers.

Ohtani’s lawyers have said they were reporting the theft to the authorities. Though the lawyers did not specify the agency to which they made the report, the IRS confirmed Friday that its criminal field office in Los Angeles opened an investigation involving the bookie, Mathew Bowyer, and Mizuhara.

MLB has been under scrutiny for its response to the scandal enveloping its marquee star, who signed a $700 million deal with the Dodgers last offseason, the vast majority of it deferred. While major league officials initially indicated they were “gathering information” but did not expect to take action until after a potentially lengthy law enforcement investigation into the bookie was resolved, the announcement Friday put MLB’s efforts in stronger terms.

“Major League Baseball has been gathering information since we learned about the allegations involving Shohei Ohtani and Ippei Mizuhari from the news media,” MLB’s statement said. “Earlier today, our Department of Investigations (DOI) began their formal process investigating the matter.”

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