NBA chief Silver reiterates support for legalised US sports betting

14 November 2014

Adam Silver, commissioner of the North American National Basketball Association (NBA) league, has once again voiced his backing for the introduction of legalised sports betting in the US.

Silver in September said that legalised sports betting would become “inevitable” in the country due to struggling state budgets and a wider acceptance of gambling by US citizens.

Backing up these quotes, Silver has used an opinion piece in US newspaper the New York Times to state that the country must adopt a different approach to sports betting, which remains illegal in the US outside the state of Nevada.

Silver believes that by legalising the practice of sports betting, the US could take advantage of an estimated $400 billion (€321.2 billion) that is currently being spent on illegal sports wagering activities.

“For more than two decades, the NBA has opposed the expansion of legal sports betting, as have the other major professional sports leagues in the United States,” Silver said in the article.

“In 1992, the leagues supported the passage by Congress of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or Paspa, which generally prohibits states from authorising sports betting. But despite legal restrictions, sports betting is widespread.

“It is a thriving underground business that operates free from regulation or oversight. Because there are few legal options available, those who wish to bet resort to illicit bookmaking operations and shady offshore websites.

“There is no solid data on the volume of illegal sports betting activity in the United States, but some estimate that nearly $400 billion is illegally wagered on sports each year.”

Silver pointed to flourishing markets such as the UK as an example of how a legalised sports betting can work in the country’s favour.

“Outside of the US, sports betting and other forms of gambling are popular, widely legal and subject to regulation,” Silver said.

“In England, for example, a sports bet can be placed on a smartphone, at a stadium kiosk or even using a television remote control. In light of these domestic and global trends, the laws on sports betting should be changed.

“Congress should adopt a federal framework that allows states to authorise betting on professional sports, subject to strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards.”

Despite his support for legalisation, Silver warned that various measures should be taken before introducing any regulated service.

“Let me be clear; any new approach must ensure the integrity of the game,” he said.

“One of my most important responsibilities as commissioner of the NBA is to protect the integrity of professional basketball and preserve public confidence in the league and our sport.

“I oppose any course of action that would compromise these objectives.

“But I believe that sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.”

Related article: NBA’s Silver says legal sports betting in US is ‘inevitable’