NBA changes its stance on legalised sports betting in US

By Robert Simmons
In an about-face, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has announced that it will lend its voice to lobbying efforts to legalise and regulate sports betting in the US Congress.

This represents a shift in stance for the NBA, which previously had said that it would support the regulation of sports betting but not directly advocate for it.

In comments reported by Yahoo Sports at the Sports Betting USA conference in New York, NBA vice-president and assistant general counsel Dan Spillane said: “Our view has been that if it’s illegal [at the federal level], that’s not the right way to start off legal sports betting in the United States — under a cloud, doing it in violation of federal law.

“At the same time, we agree with New Jersey on the ultimate policy outcome: that having legal, regulated sports betting in the United States is the best place to end up. The disagreement is just on how to get there.”

The news comes just a month after the NBA in concert with the NHL and NFL testified in defence of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) at the US Supreme Court.

At its heart, the crux of the leagues' argument rests on the supremacy of federal law over state law, with the New Jersey argument positing that states should be able to determine their own approaches to sports betting independent of PASPA, which it deems to be unconstitutional.

Spillane went on to explain: “We have advisors in DC, we have legislation that we’ve been pulling together, talking with other stakeholders in this area. It’s a slow process… When the leagues were all just unanimously opposed to it, it really wasn’t, I think, a practical discussion to have, and now it is… I think that there will be a little bit more clarity, and people will be more open, especially members of Congress, to talking about potential legislation once the [NJ] case is resolved one way or another.”

American Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber also recently voiced his support for such an initiative saying: “I am a big proponent that if it’s going to happen, we might as well be in front of it.

“I think there are great values to our tax revenues to be able to do that, I don’t think we can stop it, so maybe we’d even lead the charge.

“Gambling on games, betting on games, is part of the DNA of football around the world.”

American Gaming Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman commented: “The AGA welcomes the NBA’s active engagement on this important issue, and shares their commitment to integrity and rigorous regulation. We look forward to working together.”

Supreme Court Justices are due to commence review hearings into the New Jersey appeal on 4th December with a decision on whether to uphold or dismiss the appeal expected some time in early 2018.

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