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Adam Silver’s Stance on Sports Betting

May 13, 2015 - by Frederick H.
Adam Silver NBA Chairman

Silver says “GO!”

Legalized sports betting is a much heated discussion. Sports gambling might be as old as the gambling tradition itself. Leagues have worked to remove sports betting from professional and college sports. Now America is at a crossroads where people can finally discuss, with an open mind, the positive implications of legalized sports betting.

With further developments in interactive sports such as fantasy football, the internet has become a fertile ground for numerous online betting sites. With internet gambling is currently legal in three U.S states, there is much deliberation in court for it to spread. Adam Silver, commissioner of the National Basketball Association, made the latest gambling news news with his remarks about his support for legalized betting in the NBA.

si.com: Adam Silver on sports betting: I view myself as ‘pro transparency’

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is the only sports commissioner in American professional sports to openly support legalized sports betting. “I view myself more as pro transparency and someone who’s a realist in the business. The best way for the league to monitor our integrity is for that betting action to move toward legal betting organizations, where it can be tracked. That’s the pragmatic approach.”

Through Silver’s stance on sports betting, legalization done under regulation could actually improve the quality of betting and monitor the flow of revenue. Silver expressed more about his views to the New York Times that under strict regulations a more national approach should occur. A few months before, Silver told audience members at a sports business college that legalized sports betting is “inevitable.”

Silver also mentioned that states that need the money will push for reform. Last October Chris Christie, governor of cash strapped New Jersey, signed a law removing prohibitions against sports betting in New Jersey. Christie received opposition by all four U.S professional sports leagues and the National College Athletic Association. The plan was thwarted by U.S District Judge Michael Shipp and restrictions remained intact.

Even though all the professional sports teams including the NBA spoke out publicly against Christie, he was asked by Silver to work on expanding sports betting with the NBA by focusing on gaining U.S congressional support and developing a “framework” that would give the opportunity for states to legalize sports gambling according to their own discretion.

espn.go.com: Stern backs Silver’s betting stance

Former commissioner David Stern once said “I can tell you that this is the most serious situation and worst situation that I have ever experienced either as a fan of the NBA, a lawyer for the NBA or a commissioner of the NBA.” This comment was made in light of the Federal investigation into referee Tim Donaghy and his betting on games.

As representatives from all major sports gave their views on this travesty, the NBA was watching the numbers. The league studied the market in Las Vegas, possibly the World’s Mecca for sports gambling, and watched the market grow. Also, the exponential growth fantasy sports sites on the internet couldn’t escape the league’s notice. Sports enthusiasm combined with the public’s viral attachment to social media sites was obvious.

After noticing that NBA fans were helping create large amounts of illegal revenue from offshore betting sites, the league decided to think about things. Their plan was to figure out a way to “get in on the action.” After much research and planning, the NBA presented to America its intent through the spoken opinion of Adam Silver.

Now that the gauntlet has been dropped, Stern, who guarded any support he had, is also backing Silver on his opinions. “The course was set. But it was left for Adam to make a direct statement of where it was going, and I think he did the right thing and I’m very supportive of that.” Stern also expressed that his earlier opinions were more based on fans caring more about teams covering the point scores than winning a game.

espn.go.com: I’m not pro sports gambling. I’m just a realist

Silver has worked in five different positions under former NBA commissioner Stern. In 2006, he was deputy commissioner of the league’s international operations. Being overseas exposed Silver to trends he otherwise never would have seen in the U.S. As he helped grow the NBA brand name, he also saw, first hand, how legalized gambling operated in other countries.

“As we began to stage exhibition games in Europe and China and jurisdictions where sports betting was legal, it caused me to focus more on this than I had historically. Then we began getting approached by sports betting companies outside the United States, where it is legal, to do business with them. As we became more of a global company, I began to think what our policy should be here.”

Silver also began to realize if there is transparency in the system, incidents like the one involving Donaghy could have been avoided. “None of the systems we had in place had captured any betting by Donaghy.” Casinos, lotteries in every state and fantasy sports has made gambling a part of everyday American life. Even people who aren’t betting punters know the spreads on their favorite teams.

One month after Silver took over as NBA commissioner, he sent two attorneys to a mock sport betting trial sponsored by Jeff Ifrah, attorney at iGaming North America. The event, held at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, was entitles “As close as you ever want to get to a federally prosecuted sports betting trial.” At the event Assistant U.S Attorney Harris Fischman examined major U.S gaming laws and staged a mock federal trial.

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