NBA Commissioner Weighs In on Legal US Sports Betting
Adam Silver has been the commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA) since 2014 when he assumed that role from long-time mentor David Stern. During his seven-year tenure, he has been viewed as one of the more progressive leaders of a major professional US sports league.
Even before sports betting became legal on a state-by-state basis in May of 2018, Silver did not come out against the idea like some of the other pro sports franchises did. Three years later, the legal US sports betting industry is booming and other pro leagues such as the NFL, MLB and NHL are now looking for ways to capitalize on the added money it brings to the table.
In a recent interview with NBC Sports, Silver came out in support of William Hill’s new retail sportsbook in Capital One Arena in Washington DC. The other partner in this new collaboration is Monumental Sports and Entertainment (MSE) as the owner of that venue.
This is the same company that owns the NBA’s Washington Wizards. This historical partnership has resulted in the first retail sportsbook that is actually located in a US-based sports arena. Silver mentioned Ted Leonis by name as the Chairman and CEO of MSE. He released the following comments as part of the recent interview:
“I applaud what Ted is doing here in Washington. At the same time, I think it’s very important that there be a regulatory framework both from the state and federal level, but then also from the league as well, to look out for problematic gambling, to make sure that we strike the right balance in the amount of betting promotion that happens around our games.”
Silver is adamant about protecting the integrity of the game. Going back to the beginning of his tenure as commissioner, he tracked online sports betting even though it was technically not legal in the US. He felt this would give the league a better handle on any potential problems this might cause.
He was also quoted as saying:
“My view was we should be participating in it for two reasons: one is to protect the integrity of our game, that if we can’t follow the betting action, we don’t know if there’s abhorrent behavior, we therefore can’t investigate the incident. And it’s the same when you have legalized sports betting and you can see, through partnering with these betting companies, when there’s unusual behavior.”
Silver then went on to add:
“And then, number two, it is our intellectual property. We spend billions of dollars a year creating this product. It is my feeling that if people are going to be using the data around our games to bet, we should be participating in that.”
Going back to the US Supreme Court’s decision to allow individual states to govern legal sports betting within their borders in May of 2018, the NBA was not part of that particular lawsuit. New Jersey was the actual plaintiff in the case and it has quickly grown into the largest legal sports betting market in the country in terms of the state’s monthly sports betting handle.
The NBA has been extremely active over the past few years when it comes to strategic partnerships with legal US sports betting companies. These partnerships exist on a league-wide basis as well as on a team-by-team basis.
William Hill is one of the largest sportsbooks in the world. The UK-based firm was recently purchased by Caesars Entertainment.
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