NBA attorney Dan Spillane testified in front of the New York state senate he strongly supports allowing fans unheralded access to gambling for NBA games with the stipulation that the league gets one percent of all bets. This is, to say the least, an interesting situation in that sports organizations have gone to great effort in the past to distance themselves from gambling.
It is both a hypocritical and pragmatic stand and one NBA commissioner Adam Silver has long supported. Gambling on sporting events is a simple fact of life in this day and age. It has never been easier for fans to wager on games thanks to the internet and the loosening of laws in many states. The revenue generated from this gambling is enormous. That is the pragmatic part of the situation. The NBA wants their share of the money, revenue that exists thanks to the existence of the games.
The hypocritical part of the equation is equally easy to discern. If the NBA doesn’t want their employees betting or taking wagers on the games, well, I think I need not say more.
The executives at the NBA are looking at billions, trillions in the long run, of dollars in revenue. The way bookies make money is by taking five percent of all losing bets while paying off each winner with the corresponding loser’s wagers. In this case, the NBA wants one percent of all bets for essentially having created the league and games.
If the NBA succeeds in this desire it is almost certain the NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA, and all other sports league go to the various states and demand the same sort of deal. This means our already easy access to gambling will become essentially ubiquitous. You will have gambling applications available for your devices and the ability to make a wager, with licensed purveyors, at any time from any location. The states will certainly take their share of this windfall as well.
I think it is inevitable a percentage of the money generated from gambling ends up in the coffers of the various leagues. The NBA is the most progressive in this stance but the rest of the leagues will quickly follow once the NBA succeeds. If those who play the games and others who work for the leagues feel as if there is a double-standard, they are correct.
As more people have access to gambling greater revenue for the leagues will be generated. If the league and the state have a vested interest in people wagering on the games, all sorts of conflicts of interest are not difficult to imagine.
The dangers gambling brings to the players and officials in the various leagues, bribes to fix the outcomes of games, will extend to the various front offices and state officials. When large sums of money are at stake unscrupulous elements will assert themselves.
What is to be done? Not much. People want to gamble and as long as they do so it will be impossible to stop them. We have reached a point where we are largely no longer interested in preventing such behaviors for the supposed good of society. We simply want to make as much money as possible. Like it or not.
By Tom Liberman
Tom Liberman is a regular fellow from St. Louis, Mo., who enjoys spending time with his wonderful family and great friends. He writes Sword and Sorcery fantasy novels in his spare time.