NBA to lobby Congress to legalise sports betting in US

17 November 2017

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has revealed plans to lobby US Congress to legalise and regulate sports betting across the country.

The move represents a significant turnaround for the NBA, which last year said that although it would support federal regulation of sports wagering, it would not directly advocate it.

At present, Nevada is the only state able to offer full sports wagering services to punters, although illegal sports betting is rife across the US.

Dan Spillane, vice-president and assistant general counsel at the NBA, outlined the league’s plans at the Sports Betting USA conference in New York this week, saying it will lobby Congress for “federal framework”.

According to Legal Sports Report, Spillane also said that the NBA has advisors in Washington D.C. as well as legislation it is pulling together with its commissioner Adam Silver, who is said to have “jump-started” the conversation.

Speaking in July of this year, Silver said he believed that sports betting would be legal across the country within “the next few years”, saying such activities result in “enormous additional engagement with the fans”.

The NBA’s change in position will come as a major boost to New Jersey, which is in the middle of a case that could lead to other states introducing regulated and legalised sports betting.

New Jersey is hoping to overturn the federal 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which makes it unlawful for governmental entities to sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, licence or authorise betting, gambling or wagering schemes that are based on games played by amateur or professional athletes.

The state has said it is against the U.S. Constitution for the federal government to usurp state rights and provide Nevada with the ability to offer sports betting, but deny other states the same opportunity.

The US Supreme Court is due to hear New Jersey’s argument early next month.

Don Garber, commissioner of North America’s Major League Soccer (MLS), also recently voiced his support for widespread legalisation of sports wagering in the US, saying betting is “part of the DNA of football”.

According to Yahoo, Garber said: “I am a big proponent that it’s going to happen, we might as well be in front of it.

“I think there are great values to our tax revenues to be able to do that, I don’t think we can stop it, so maybe we’d even lead the charge.

“Gambling on games, betting on games, is part of the DNA of football around the world.”

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