The following is an opinion piece and does not necessarily represent the views of PlayUSA or Catena Media.
The launch of legal Ohio sports betting will further provide a regulated system for gambling in Ohio. It will create new revenue streams for businesses and new jobs. In anticipation of the Jan. 1 launch date, Ohio has done a tremendous job of dedicating resources to providing treatment for problem gambling.
All those positive aspects are tarnished, however, by an emerging narrative in the state when it comes to this gambling expansion. The inclusion of former MLB manager and player Pete Rose in a sort of “redemption tour” regarding his past illegal gambling is a storyline that the industry would be better off treating as the dumpster fire that Rose’s off-the-diamond behavior has been.
Ohio sports betting’s promotion of Pete Rose
From a narrow perspective, this situation seems like a ready-made marketing ploy. Rose, who has admitted to placing bets on baseball games during his MLB career, is in a way “redeemed” by the changes in federal and state laws that have occurred over the past five years.
It’s an erroneous storyline even in that vacuum, to be certain. Even under the new laws and league standards, if Rose was a present-day MLB player or manager, betting on MLB games – whether he was a part of them or not – would still represent violations. That hasn’t changed whatsoever.
Regardless, Rose’s “tour” will begin on New Year’s Day 2023 in line with the Ohio sports betting launch. He will take part in a ceremony at the Hard Rock Casino in Cincinnati. It will undoubtedly be followed by numerous media appearances across the state.
Rose himself is trying to capitalize on the moment in more ways than just getting paid to make public appearances. He has also again asked MLB to rescind the lifetime ban he agreed to over his illegal gambling.
The biggest problem with Rose in 2022 has nothing to do with his gambling, whether on baseball or otherwise. It also isn’t really about his lying about his gambling when he got caught, either. The major issue that should disqualify Rose from going on this “redemption tour” is his admission of sexual relations with a 16-year-old girl who alleges Rose sexually assaulted her when she was even younger.
Entities like the Hard Rock Cincinnati seem more than willing to overlook that because Rose was once good at swinging a stick at a ball.
Rose’s alleged sexual assault of Ohio girl
Rose denies that he committed statutory rape against the woman, whose identity remains unknown. In Ohio, the age of consent for sex is 16. He has admitted to having sex with her at and past that age. The allegations go beyond just this single girl, however.
John Dowd, who was hired by MLB to oversee the investigation into Rose’s gambling in the 1980s, claims that an acquaintance of Rose’s arranged for him to meet multiple girls ranging in age from 12 to 14. Dowd claims Rose would have intercourse with them, constituting sexual assault of a minor even by Ohio law.
The woman that Rose has admitted to having sexual contact with alleges that Rose raped her when she was 14. All the alleged conduct took place in the early 1970s, which is far beyond the statutory limits for such criminal activity.
In this conversation, the issue of whether Rose should be incarcerated for his alleged conduct is not the subject of discussion, however. The question is whether there is a “statute of limitations” for sexual relations with a 16-year-old girl outside of the legal system. Should Rose still face consequences for his behavior in terms of his economic opportunities?
Time is irrelevant when it comes to assault
Given Rose’s attempted cover-up of his illegal gambling, it’s fair to assume he is capable of trying to mislead the public about his past relations with underage girls as well. To our knowledge, it’s been nearly half a century since he allegedly committed sexual assault against minors.
That would perhaps prompt another question of whether he should face consequences for the rest of his life for these potential crimes. That isn’t a black-and-white situation, however. Context is crucial to that discussion.
The alleged criminal behavior isn’t Rose stealing a pack of gum fifty years ago. If the claims against him are true, Rose raped multiple girls. If that doesn’t come with some life-long consequences, what does?
Even if you dismiss the allegations he hasn’t admitted to and just focus on what he has owned up to, that’s still irredeemable behavior. The girl was 16 years of age. A lack of legal consequences does not justify the action morally. Another pertinent issue is the lifetime of emotional and mental trauma Rose’s alleged victims are likely enduring.
Once again, though, this discussion isn’t about whether Rose should face legal consequences at this point. It’s about gambling operations in Ohio overlooking Rose’s flawed character to benefit off of whatever public interest he draws.
Ohio should leave Rose on the bench
There is no stipulation in either the Ohio or United States constitutions that guarantee a right to get paid to make promotional appearances. Rose forfeited those privileges when he chose to have sexual contact with a 16-year-old girl.
By acting like that never happened and the other allegations against him have no merit, gambling entities like the Hard Rock Cincinnati are sending a message that Rose’s “redemption” is more important than those girls’ bodily autonomy. The narrative is that the life-long trauma these girls could still be dealing with is secondary to Hard Rock’s capitalizing on the moment.
Ohio gambling and sports culture in the United States have prioritized economic opportunity over the happiness and health of girls. People in Ohio should take note when they make their decisions on how to spend their money.