• Kyodo


The Yomiuri Giants professional baseball team was dealt another blow Wednesday as an investigative panel set up by Nippon Professional Baseball said two more Yomiuri Giants pitchers had bet on baseball games.

The announcement that Shoki Kasahara, 24, and Ryuya Matsumoto, 22, had gambled on baseball games follows the revelation on Oct. 5 that 32-year-old fellow Giants pitcher Satoshi Fukuda had engaged in gambling.

Betting on baseball games in Japan, which is illegal, has long been a key revenue source for the nation’s yakuza.

Article 180 of the Professional Baseball Agreement, which every player must sign with NPB, specifically bans players from gambling on ball games and associating with the yakuza.

Kasahara bet on 10 professional baseball games between April and October last year, in addition to another 10 to 20 games. He also gambled on senior high school baseball games between April and August last year, the panel headed by lawyer Motonari Otsuru said.

Kasahara, the No. 5 pick in the 2009 draft, pitched in 26 games last year, but the panel said that the games on which he bet last year did not include any Giants games.

Matsumoto bet on more than 10 professional baseball games between June and October last year.

A source at NPB said both pitchers have admitted to involvement in baseball gambling.

“This is extremely regrettable,” said NPB Commissioner Katsuhiko Kumazaki. “Baseball has become a fixture thanks to the support it has had for a long time from many fans.”

“Culturally, baseball is the property of the public and we do our best and put all our effort into keeping it wholesome.”

The panel said an acquaintance of Kasahara’s, whom the pitcher had introduced to Fukuda, turned out to be a regular gambler on baseball games.

Fukuda and the acquaintance bet on some 10 professional baseball games in August and September this year and on senior high school and Major League Baseball games between May and September this year, the panel said.

Matsumoto was the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, but has not pitched on the top team.

The investigative panel will make a final report on the scandal within a month.

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