NBA commissioner Adam Silver calls for federal move to allow sport bets

NBA commissioner Adam Silver called Thursday for changes to US laws that ban gambling on sports events in most states, saying American attitudes have changed regarding such betting.

AFP| Last Updated: Nov 14, 2014, 10:10 AM IST
NBA commissioner Adam Silver calls for federal move to allow sport bets

New York: NBA commissioner Adam Silver called Thursday for changes to US laws that ban gambling on sports events in most states, saying American attitudes have changed regarding such betting.

Silver, who replaced David Stern as the NBA`s boss last February, expressed his opinions in an editorial posted Thursday on the New York Times website even as a federal judge is set to rule next week on neighboring New Jersey`s push for Las Vegas-style gambling on sports at struggling casinos and racing tracks.

Under a 1992 law, state-backed US sports betting on single games is allowed only in Nevada.

To help make his case, Silver cited the gambling done on NBA games beyond US borders as global interest in the league has grown over the past two decades.

"Outside of the United States, sports betting and other forms of gambling are popular, widely legal and subject to regulation," Silver wrote. "In England, for example, a sports bet can be placed on a smartphone, at a stadium kiosk or even using a television remote control.

"In light of these domestic and global trends, the laws on sports betting should be changed. Congress should adopt a federal framework that allows states to authorize betting on professional sports, subject to strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards."

Among Silver`s requirements would be mandatory monitoring and reporting of unusual betting-line movements, a licensing protocol to ensure legitimate betting operators, minimum-age verification measures and geographical blocking technology so betting is available only where it is legal.

A major issue regarding gambling and sports leagues has been to protect the integrity of games and performances from any notion of match fixing.

The NBA was hit with a betting scandal in 2007 involving referee Tim Donaghy, who was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to two charges related to a federal investiation on whether or not he made calls over his final two seasons that influenced the point spreads in certain games to aid gamblers.

The scandal prompted Stern to change the way officials are assigned to games and tighten background checks on NBA referees.

Silver`s support of gambling comes with stress that no compromises can be made with regard to the integrity of game results.

"Let me be clear: Any new approach must ensure the integrity of the game," Silver said. "One of my most important responsibilities as commissioner of the NBA is to protect the integrity of professional basketball and preserve public confidence in the league and our sport. I oppose any course of action that would compromise these objectives.

"But I believe that sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated."

On Wednesday, the NBA signed an exclusive four-year deal with FanDuel, a sports fantasy draft league business.