Ex-NBA commish David Stern gets a grip on ‘outdated’ sports betting fear

David Stern has been known as a staunch opponent of sports betting legalization. Well, not anymore. The former NBA commissioner recently made a complete turnaround from his former stance, telling ESPN.com’s David Purdum that “the notion that gambling will lead to bad things is ‘outdated.’” Stern, along with major sports leagues such as the NBA, supported the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), which effectively limited state-sponsored betting to Nevada and, to a lesser extent, Delaware. In 2012, Stern even argued that, “The NBA cannot be compensated in damages for the harm that sports gambling poses to the fundamental bonds of loyalty and devotion between fans and teams.” Four years later, and Stern is singing a new tune—thanks partly to the popularity of daily fantasy sports. “Whatever barrier perhaps existed is gone,” Stern said, according to the sports news outlet. “So, to me, if they’re going to be doing daily fantasy, you might as well legalize gambling.” The man’s newfound philosophy echoes that of his successor, current NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who has been batting for a federal approach to sports betting. Silver has repeatedly called for the Congress to adopt regulatory framework and allow states and sports leagues to decide if they want to participate. Like Silver, Stern also wants sports gambling to be legalized within the U.S., and hopeful that it will get done in five to 10 years. “If a sport says, ‘I don’t want to have my games bet on,’ then they should have the opportunity to opt out,” he told ESPN. “If a state says, ‘I don’t want to have betting’ for any number of reasons, they don’t have to have betting. And I think that makes it a really good situation. It’s sort of a coalition of the wanted and the wanting.”