Adam Silver has spoken with commissioners in other leagues about legalizing gambling on sports


NBA commissioner Adam Silver has just finished his first year in office, and while he eyes potentially making changes to the playoff format and the Draft Lottery system, a bigger modification that would involve changing laws at the federal level is something he continues to work towards, because it’s what’s most likely to have the greatest impact in terms of overall fan interest.

Silver has been advocating for the legalization of gambling on sports; he has said it is inevitable, and he wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times that further explained his reasoning.

In order for it to become legalized, however, it would likely take the other major sports leagues being on board, and similarly lobbying for it to take place — which is probably why Silver says he has been having those discussions.

From David Purdum of

“I have talked to the commissioners in the other leagues about [legalizing sports betting],” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in an exclusive interview with ESPN The Magazine in late January at the league’s Manhattan office. “I leave it to them to make any public statements they want to make on it. I will say that certainly all of them are interested in having a better understanding of the issue, and I know have assigned people in their organizations to study intensively the issue as well.”

In addition to the conversations between the commissioners, there have been other private meetings between counsel for the leagues to discuss the pros and cons of legalization, multiple sources with direct knowledge told ESPN. …

“It’s my personal view that there should be federal legislation on this issue, in part to avoid what is happening now,” Silver said. “My greatest concern is that there will be in essence a hodgepodge of regulations controlling sports betting that will vary from state to state, jurisdiction to jurisdiction and will make it increasingly difficult to monitor betting on our very own sport.”

Under Silver’s leadership, the NBA has already taken a small step in endorsing its fans having a little action on the league’s nightly contests. Back in November, a multiyear partnership was announced that made FanDuel the official one-day fantasy partner of the NBA. (FanDuel is also a partner of NBC Sports.)

But while daily fantasy sports are growing and remain a way for fans to stay engaged, that’s only a very small piece of the level of interest that would be generated if a full-scale legalization occurred, where the league could benefit from fans wagering on sides, totals or a variety of in-game propositions that could hold their attention until the final buzzer sounds.

Silver knows that with the help of federal legislation, all of this could become a reality, and fan interest in the sport he governs could potentially soar. He may not be a proponent of gambling in the simplest sense, but in terms of how legalizing it could positively affect the growth of the NBA, Silver certainly seems to be aware of the possibilities.