Ever since penning that op-ed in the New York Times last November 2014, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has taken every opportunity to strengthen his case of bringing sports gambling “out of the underground.”
Speaking as a guest on the Boomer & Carton show earlier this week, Silver said that sports betting is “good for business”, pointing out that it creates an added element of fan engagement in the league. “We all know as fans if you have, even like a gentleman’s bet or a $5 bet with your friend on a game, all of a sudden you’re a lot more interested.”
The NBA commissioner also added that before writing his New York Times op-ed, he spent a great deal of time studying the sports betting infrastructure in European soccer and basketball with the idea of one day implementing a similar structure to the NBA.
His biggest takeaway from learning about that model was the intense level of scrutiny attached to betting activities in a lot of markets in Europe. From data-mining to anti-match fixing organizations, the amount of time spent monitoring sports gambling in the other side of the Atlantic is something that he thinks could work in the NBA once all the pieces are put in place.
“If there’s any irregular activity whatsoever, it’s like tracking insider trading on the New York Stock Exchange,” he said. “If there’s a blip, if there’s unusual activity, they know to investigate. So first the issue for us is if all this betting is going to go on anyway, we should be able to monitor it. And then, No. 2, if all this betting activity is going to go on anyway, make it legal.”
The part about “making it legal” is the trickiest equation to this problem and Silver recognizes that getting there means convincing more people in power to join him on his side of the fence including commissioners of the four other professional sports leagues in the US.
Silver confirmed that he spoke with “all the other commissioners,” adding that the reactions when he broached the topic covered the whole gamut of feelings tied into the issue of legalizing sports betting in the US.
“Some were, ‘What are you doing?’ Others were, ‘Let’s study it, seems like an interesting idea.”
At the very least, Silver can take comfort knowing that more and more NBA owners are supporting his stance on the issue. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was the first to speak out supporting the commissioner and in the months that have passed since writing that New York Times op-ed, Silver has also gotten the proverbial backing from the likes of Los Angeles Lakers president Jeannie Buss and most recently, Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis.