National Basketball Association commissioner Adam Silver (pictured) has doubled down on his advocacy for legal sports betting, penning a high-profile op-ed in the New York Times calling for “a different approach” from the current prohibition.
Silver surprised the sports world in September by publicly suggesting the spread of legal sports betting across the United States was “inevitable,” remarks that came while the NBA and the other major pro sports leagues were actively fighting New Jersey’s latest attempt to spread legal sports betting across the Garden State.
In his Times piece, Silver states his desire to bring sports betting “out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.” Silver notes that America’s gaming landscape has changed dramatically in the decades since the federal PASPA prohibition limited single-game sports betting to Nevada. Silver says gambling “has increasingly become a popular and accepted form of entertainment” in the US and there is “an obvious appetite … for a safe and legal way to wager on professional sporting events.”
Silver emphasizes that his job requires him to be vigilant about protecting basketball’s “integrity” and to “preserve public confidence in the league and our sport.” As such, Silver wants the federal government to establish a framework under which individual states could authorize legal sports betting. This would include monitoring betting activity to guard against suspicious transactions, age- and location-verifying technology and measures to mitigate problem gambling behavior.
Silver insists that absent this “comprehensive federal solution,” efforts like those in New Jersey “will be both unlawful and bad public policy.” New Jersey and the leagues opposing the state’s latest betting plan are scheduled for oral arguments before US District Court Judge Michael Shipp on Nov. 20. Most observers don’t give the state much of a shot, setting up yet another appeal to the Third Circuit Court in December.
Silver echoed similar pro-betting sentiments last month in a video interview with Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck (viewable below), noting that there were “business benefits” to the NBA and the other leagues if legal sports betting were more widely available. Asked whether NBA arenas would ever feature betting windows similar to those at European football grounds, Silver noted that it was more likely that NBA fans would be betting from their seats via their mobile devices. Silver even noted that regulators would prefer this method because of the extra know-your-customer data online wagering provides.
The sports betting discussion begins around the 16:35 mark.