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Leagues Prepare for Life with State-Sponsored Sports Books

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Photo: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

The two sides of the professional sports gambling issue seem to ironically be bookended this week. On Tuesday, the Commissioners of the NBA, NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball spoke at a New York gathering about the future of sports that included state sponsored gambling, while the 31st National Conference on Problem Gambling in Portland, Oregon started on Friday.

Professional sports leagues, along with the NCAA, have been fighting the establishment of sports books save Nevada for years and the National Football League has so far successfully fought off attempts to start a sports book in New Jersey and Delaware. While probably not a natural ally of the NFL, anti-gambling activists do take the same stance as the NFL. The NFL hierarchy feels that legalized sports gambling would somehow hamper the league’s integrity. While the anti-gambling activists want to prevent a ruination of people’s lives if a person becomes thoroughly addicted to gambling.

But NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sees an upside if legalized sports gambling becomes the law of the land, or at least the law of states that are pushing for a sports book. Silver thinks gambling would get more eyeballs on his product, basketball and that means more money.

“My sense is the law will change in the next few years in the United States,” said Silver who then added. “People want to bet throughout the game. It results in enormous additional engagement with the fans.”

What Silver said makes sense when you think about it. Gamblers would have skin in the game and it would not be just who won or lost or even a point spread. It could be on anything within a game. It is done now either with friends or illegal bookies so why not make it legal? Meanwhile, the waiting game is on as the Supreme Court will determine whether New Jersey can open a sports book.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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