NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has penned an op-ed that calls for the legalization and regulation of gambling on professional American sports.
Silver argues in the New York Times, published Thursday, that fans already skirt the law to bet on sports games — an estimated $400 billion is wagered per year — and writes that those actions should be controlled. “I believe that sports betting should be brought out of the underground,” he says, “and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.”
He notes that many states sanction other types of betting like lotteries, legal casinos and even online gambling. And he points to global examples like England from which the U.S. could learn.
Silver’s message is a radical change from the NBA’s official stance just two years ago, when the league joined the NCAA, NFL, MLB and NHL in suing New Jersey over its efforts to legalize sports betting in casinos and race tracks. The leagues won the suit, though Gov. Chris Christie has since signed a bill lifting the ban on betting in the state.
But Silver also believes the benefits of legalization on sports gambling outweigh the potential pitfalls: “Without a comprehensive federal solution, state measures such as New Jersey’s recent initiative will be both unlawful and bad public policy.”
This isn’t the first time Silver has suggested the NBA would benefit from such a move. “It’s inevitable that, if all these states are broke, that there will be legalized sports betting in more states than Nevada,” Silver said at the Bloomberg Business Summit in September. “We will ultimately participate in that.”