NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been making a lot of changes to the league since he took over for David Stern in February. However, in an op-ed penned for the New York Times, Silver announced his support for a change that would alter the entire landscape of American sports.
In his article, headlined "Legalize and Regulate Sports Betting", Silver begins with a bang.
"Betting on professional sports is currently illegal in most of the United States outside of Nevada," he writes. "I believe we need a different approach."
Silver goes on to detail the countless ways in which gambling is already present in American sports culture. He references states which have already legalized the practice, lotteries, or legal casinos; the websites and sports networks that regularly post gambling and betting lines; and the recent bill signed by New Jersey governor Chris Christie which authorized sports betting at local casinos and horse racetracks. For comparison's sake, Silver also mentions England's relaxed gambling culture.
In closing, he outlines the necessary steps Congress must take to bring gambling into American sports.
Congress should adopt a federal framework that allows states to authorize betting on professional sports, subject to strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards.
These requirements would include: mandatory monitoring and reporting of unusual betting-line movements; a licensing protocol to ensure betting operators are legitimate; minimum-age verification measures; geo-blocking technology to ensure betting is available only where it is legal; mechanisms to identify and exclude people with gambling problems; and education about responsible gaming.
Basically, Silver's point is that since we have the technology and infrastructure to create a well-regulated gambling system in the United States, there's no reason to ban the practice other than puritanical traditionalism. And, of course, he's quick to mention the financial benefits that could be reaped from instituting such a change.
"There is no solid data on the volume of illegal sports betting activity in the United States," he writes, "but some estimate that nearly $400 billion is illegally wagered on sports each year."
There's a lot of money being left on the table by the United States. Silver doesn't mention how the NBA would figure into this new system, other than being a sport which would be gambled on. But if he's seeing dollar signs, then it's likely that the commish is looking for a way to use that action to increase the league's take.
[via The New York Times]