NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has broken ranks from the rest of the US sports fraternity again and called for sports betting to be legalised and regulated. In an Op-Ed piece for the New York Times, Silver said that the country needed a different approach to the current prohibition.
Silver, who has spoken of his support for sports betting before, commented: “There is an obvious appetite among sports fans for a safe and legal way to wager on professional sporting events. Mainstream media outlets regularly publish sports betting lines and point spreads. Voters in New Jersey overwhelmingly voiced their support for legal sports betting in a 2011 referendum. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey recently signed a bill authorising sports betting at local casinos and horse racetracks, a law the N.B.A. and other leagues have opposed — and a federal court has blocked — because it violates Paspa.
“Outside of the United States, sports betting and other forms of gambling are popular, widely legal and subject to regulation. 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.”
Silver said that without a ‘comprehensive federal solution’, state measures such as New Jersey’s recent initiative will be both unlawful and bad public policy.
He concluded: “Let me be clear: Any new approach must ensure the integrity of the game. 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.”