The career hits leader says in his soon-to-be-released autobiography that he hopes the acknowledgment will help end his ban from baseball, which could lead to his induction into the Hall of Fame.
Rose says he was a big-time gambler who started betting regularly on baseball in 1987 but never against the Reds, according to excerpts from the book released to Sports Illustrated for its issue that hits newsstands Wednesday.
"Yes, sir, I did bet on baseball," Rose told commissioner Bud Selig during a meeting in November 2002 about Rose's lifetime ban.
"How often?" Selig asked.
"Four or five times a week," Rose replied. "But I never bet against my own team, and I never made any bets from the clubhouse."
"Why?" Selig asked.
"I didn't think I'd get caught."
Rose repeated his admission in an interview on ABC News' "Primetime Thursday," parts of which aired Monday on "Good Morning America."
"It's time to clean the slate, it's time to take responsibility," Rose says in the interview. "I'm 14 years late.
"I just never had the opportunity to tell anybody that was going to help me. ... I couldn't get a response from baseball for 12 years. It's like I died and, and they knew I died and they didn't want to bring me back. They were just going to let me rot."
In "My Prison Without Bars," to be released Thursday, Rose writes that he regrets lying for all those years and says, "I wish I could take it all back."
"I've consistently heard the statement: 'If Pete Rose came clean, all would be forgiven.' Well, I've done what you've asked. The rest is up to the commissioner and the big umpire in the sky."
Rose agreed to the lifetime ban in August 1989 and applied for reinstatement in 1997, but Selig hasn't ruled on the request.
After meeting with Selig, Rose came away thinking he would be reinstated "within a reasonable period." Other baseball officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the following month that Selig wanted Rose to admit he bet on baseball as part of any reinstatement agreement.
"We haven't seen the book. Until we read the book, there's nothing to comment on," Selig told The Associated Press on Sunday night.
"If he did admit it, I think that's a positive step," said Tom Keegan of ESPN Radio. "It's a good thing, but that's all it is, it's a first step."
As long as Rose is banned from baseball, he is ineligible for the Hall of Fame ballot. His last chance to appear on the writers' ballot is December 2005. After that, if he's reinstated, he could be voted in by the veterans' committee.
Rose wrote that if he "had been an alcoholic or a drug addict, baseball would have suspended me for six weeks and paid for my rehabilitation."
"I should have had the opportunity to get help, but baseball had no fancy rehab for gamblers like they do for drug addicts," Rose wrote. "If I had admitted my guilt, it would have been the same as putting my head on the chopping block — lifetime ban. Death penalty. I spent my entire life on the baseball fields of America, and I was not going to give up my profession without first seeing some hard evidence. ... Right or wrong, the punishment didn't fit the crime — so I denied the crime."
"The number one rule is 'no gambling,' number one," Keegan told CBS News. "Before drugs, before alcohol, The number one rule before anything because nothing erodes the integrity of sports more directly than gambling."
In the book, Rose admits placing bets with Ronald Peters through Thomas Gioiosa and Paul Janszen — the three were the primary witnesses in the 1989 investigation by baseball lawyer John Dowd that led to the agreement in which Rose accepted a lifetime ban.
Dowd concluded Rose bet on baseball from 1985-87 and detailed 412 baseball wagers between April 8-July 5, 1987, including 52 on Cincinnati to win.
"During the times I gambled as a manager, I never took an unfair advantage," Rose wrote. "I never bet more or less based on injuries or inside information. I never allowed my wagers to influence my baseball decisions. So in my mind, I wasn't corrupt."
Former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent said Sunday: "I think John Dowd is owed a big apology by Rose.
"John is the hero. He did a great job. Now Rose admits John was correct," Vincent said.
Rose wrote that after breaking Ty Cobb's career hits record in 1985, and as he dealt with retirement as a player the following year, his betting became more of a problem. He details losing several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"I didn't realize it at the time, but I was pushing toward disaster," he wrote. "A part of me was still looking for ways to recapture the high I got from winning batting titles and World Series. If I couldn't get the high from playing baseball, then I needed a substitute to keep from feeling depressed. I was driven, in gambling as well as in baseball. Enough was never enough. I had huge appetites, and I was always hungry."
Asked during the ABC News interview what fans think about him, Rose said: "I think the powers that be in baseball understand that, 'Hey, maybe the fans like this guy. Maybe the fans want, want us to give him a second chance.'"
"He has a tremendous following by the fans," said author James Reston, Jr., who wrote a dual biography of Rose and Giamatti. However, he believes any relief for Rose should include conditions.
"My condition would be that the Cooperstown Museum do a better job explaining why betting on baseball is a cardinal sin," he told CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston.