The National Basketball Association (NBA) is reportedly under the impression that it could make more money from legal sports betting than the amount the league currently reaps from television contracts. Breitbart Sports quoted an unnamed ‘team source within the league’ saying the NBA believes it “could easily make three or four times more” from betting than it earns via its existing television contracts.
In November, NBA commissioner Adam Silver penned a widely read New York Times op-ed calling for a federal framework to oversee sports betting, Silver insisted his stance was motivated by a desire to bring betting “out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.”
Brietbart’s source said such lofty goals may help publicly justify the NBA’s about-face, but the reality was “it’s about the money.” In September, Silver said the spread of legal betting was “inevitable” and the NBA would “ultimately participate in that.”
For the record, the NBA inked a deal in October with ESPN, TNT and ABC that will pay the league $2.6b per year through the 2024-25 season. Anyone suggesting an NBA ‘betting right’ would be worth up to $10b per year is Breitbarking up the wrong tree.
STERN BACKS SILVER’S BETTING STANCE
On Wednesday, Silver’s predecessor David Stern went on CNBC’s Squawkbox program to offer his support for Silver’s betting stance. “I think I agree with Adam,” said Stern, offering the opinion that the league’s newfound embrace of daily fantasy sports had changed the playing field. Fantasy sports was given a carveout in the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
Stern went on to say: “I think [daily fantasy is] gambling, so now I think the best approach would be … for there to be federal regulation. Bring the sports leagues in. If it’s going to happen … you should make it legal and you should regulate it as tightly as you possibly can.”
Way back in 2009, Stern publicly dismissed the notion that betting could be opposed on moral grounds and said betting represented a “huge opportunity” for the league. However, in a 2012 deposition opposing New Jersey’s quest for legal sports betting, Stern called betting a “regressive tax” and predicted that the federal government would eventually modify the 1992 PASPA sports betting prohibition “over our objections.”
DRAFTKINGS INK TIMBERWOLVES
Meanwhile, daily fantasy sports’ connection to the NBA got a little stronger after the Minnesota Timberwolves inked a deal with DraftKings. Terms weren’t disclosed, but DraftKings will become a sponsor of both the Timberwolves’ Team Stats social media feature and the WolvesCast official team podcast. DraftKings signage will feature at the team’s Target Center venue as well as on the team’s official website. The deal marks DraftKings’ fourth NBA partnership, joining the Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers.