The same week that the NBA announced a partnership with the one-day fantasy site FanDuel, commissioner Adam Silver has penned an op-ed in the New York Times laying out the case for legalized, regulated sports betting:
There is an obvious appetite among sports fans for a safe and legal way to wager on professional sporting events. Mainstream media outlets regularly publish sports betting lines and point spreads. Voters in New Jersey overwhelmingly voiced their support for legal sports betting in a 2011 referendum. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey recently signed a bill authorizing sports betting at local casinos and horse racetracks, a law the N.B.A. and other leagues have opposed — and a federal court has blocked — because it violates Paspa.
Outside of the United States, sports betting and other forms of gambling are popular, widely legal and subject to regulation. In England, for example, a sports bet can be placed on a smartphone, at a stadium kiosk or even using a television remote control.
In light of these domestic and global trends, the laws on sports betting should be changed. Congress should adopt a federal framework that allows states to authorize betting on professional sports, subject to strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards.
The regulations Silver suggests for legalized sports betting include mandatory reporting of the movement of betting lines, age-verification measures, licensing for operators, and measures to ensure that bets are only placed where they are legal.
This isn’t the first time Silver has hinted at being open to legalized sports betting. In September, the commissioner admitted that it was “inevitable” and strongly suggested that the NBA would participate once a regulatory system is put in place:
“It’s inevitable that, if all these states are broke, that there will be legalized sports betting in more states than Nevada and we will ultimately participate in that,” said Silver, 52. …
“If you have a gentleman’s bet or a small wager on any kind of sports contest, it makes you that much more engaged in it,” Silver said. “That’s where we’re going to see it pay dividends. If people are watching a game and clicking to bet on their smartphones, which is what people are doing in the United Kingdom right now, then it’s much more likely you’re going to stay tuned for a long time.”
Since taking over as commissioner of the NBA, he has gone out of his way to show that he wants to be a more progressive, in-touch commissioner than David Stern. Being open to something like legalized gambling that was previously taboo is just another way that manifests itself.