So far, Adam Silver’s tenure as commissioner has involved name changes, racist owners, record franchise sales and first picks traded mere months after the draft. It hasn’t been quite a normal transition, and it looks like the changes aren’t coming to an end any time soon. Speaking about the future of the sport, Silver said that not only does he think NBA betting is inevitable, but that the league wants in on the action.1
It’s inevitable that, if all these states are broke, that there will be legalized sports betting in more states than Nevada and we will ultimately participate in that,” said Silver, 52.
Silver, who has been with the NBA for 22 years and replaced former Commissioner David Stern in February, said that he doesn’t have any moral issue with sports betting. The league, which already allows teams to create marketing deals with casinos, would further profit from the legalization of sports wagering outside Nevada, he said.
“If you have a gentleman’s bet or a small wager on any kind of sports contest, it makes you that much more engaged in it,” Silver said. “That’s where we’re going to see it pay dividends. If people are watching a game and clicking to bet on their smartphones, which is what people are doing in the United Kingdom right now, then it’s much more likely you’re going to stay tuned for a long time.”
David Stern had publicly taken stands against sports betting before, not necessarily on moral grounds, but because he thought it would be to the detriment of the league. As Silver outlines, that’s a load of rubbish. There’s no way that giving more people a reason to care about a game is going to hurt a sport. I’m a lot more likely to tune into a Tuesday night game between the Sixers and the Magic if I’ve got some money riding on the outcome.
At this point, there really isn’t any reason for sports gambling to be illegal. It’s not a lot different than walking to your local 7/11 and buying an instant lotto ticket. You’re risking money for the opportunity to win money. Yes, there should be strict restrictions on athletes betting on games, but insider gambling is pretty strictly frowned upon, regardless of what that gambling is on.
The reason professional sports leagues are as prevalent as they are is they rake in ridiculous amounts of money. If there’s a way for the NBA to bring in more money and more fans, there’s absolutely no reason why the league shouldn’t go for it. Kudos to Silver for being proactive.