Adam Silver’s quest to become the best commissioner in sports took another giant step forward Thursday, when he shared his latest idea: embracing sports betting. Silver spoke at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit in New York Thursday and brought up the dreaded “G” word, which is dangerous territory for a league that once had a referee involved in a betting scandal. Silver’s claim is that widespread, legalized sports betting is “inevitable” as cash-strapped states seek to find more sources for revenue, and that the NBA could benefit tremendously from it:
“It’s inevitable that, if all these states are broke, that there will be legalized sports betting in more states than Nevada,” Silver said, per Bloomberg.com. “We will ultimately participate in that.”
“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.”
Silver’s stance on gambling is the complete opposite of his predecessor, David Stern, who led the charge in 2012 when the major sports leagues — along with the NCAA — banded together to quash a movement to legalize sport betting at casinos and race tracks in New Jersey. The leagues we victorious in an initial ruling, but as the state of New Jersey continues to push for sports betting, it appears the NFL, MLB, NHL and the NCAA may have lost a major ally in the fight.
Silver also added that he has no moral objection to gambling, and that the league already allows teams to partner with casinos for marketing purposes.