NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s bold beginning to his tenure continued on Thursday, when he declared widespread, legalized sports betting in the United States to be inevitable while stating that he expects his league to profit from it.
Silver, 52, told the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit that it’s only a matter of time before states facing financial difficulty look to follow Nevada’s lead in making sports betting legal. From there, he said, the NBA will get in on the action.
“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,” Silver told the Summit. “If you have a gentlemen’s bet or a small wager on any kind of sports contest, it makes you that much more engaged in it. That’s where we’re going to see it pay dividends.”
Silver’s stance is in marked contrast to the league’s position just two years ago, when, together with the NCAA, the NFL, the NHL and Major League Baseball and the Justice Department, the NBA sued the state of New Jersey over a plan to implement legalized sports betting. But that effort was led by former league commissioner David Stern, with whom Silver has proven he hardly moves in lockstep, his swift action in the Donald Sterling fiasco being the most obvious example.
As far as this particular endeavor is concerned, Silver indicated that it’s the next logical step for the league given that NBA teams are already permitted to consummate marketing deals with casinos.
“If people are watching a game and clicking to bet on their smartphones, which people are doing in the United Kingdom right now, then it’s more likely you’re to stay tuned for a long time.”