NBA outlines its support for sports betting

By Robert Simmons
Executives from the National Basketball Association (NBA) have been outlining their vision for legalised sports betting in New York State as a model for sports betting across the US.

In written testimony to the New York State Senate Standing Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, NBA Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel Daniel Spillane said: “We support the passage of a comprehensive sports betting bill that would serve as a model for a 50-state solution—whether that happens in Congress or on a state-by-state basis."

Among the NBA’s provisos for such a bill are the inclusion of mandatory alerts by gaming operators of unusual betting activity and the centralisation of betting data “to facilitate monitoring of bets across operators and jurisdictions".

Operators wishing to offer sports betting would be required to pay each sporting league 1% of the total amount bet on each of its games, with the money being invested in compliance, enforcement, monitoring, investigations and education.

Sports leagues would have the opportunity to restrict wagering on their own events, with consumer protections including a licensing programme, restrictions on age and advertising, and self-exclusion programmes to assist problem gamblers.

The final provision that the NBA have stated is that any legislation should include the state-wide authorisation of sports betting and on mobile platforms as a way of discouraging bettors from wagering illegally via offshore websites.

Sporting leagues were instrumental in the passing of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 1992, but in recent years the leagues have diverged in their opinions on sports betting. In November 2014, NBA commissioner Adam Silver wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in which he asserted that sports betting would be legalised eventually.

Since that famous editorial, the NBA’s opinion now differs from that of the National Football League and the National Hockey League, who have both voiced their support for retaining PASPA.

Spillane added: “Our conclusion is that the time has come for a different approach that gives sports fans a safe and legal way to wager on sporting events while protecting the integrity of the underlying competitions.”

Other witnesses testifying at the hearing include representatives from the New York Racing Association, New York Thoroughbred Horsemen Association, New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc, New York State Gaming Association and the New York Council on Problem Gambling. The gambling industry was represented by executives from Sportradar, Rush Street Interactive, Tioga Downs Casino Resort and William Hill US.

Responding to the testimony, American Gaming Association President Geoff Freeman issued a statement in which he was less than supportive of a 1% levy on sports betting: “We are pleased that the National Basketball Association (NBA) today joined with the gaming industry in support of vigorously regulated sports wagering.

"We can all agree that the 25-year ban on sports wagering has been a failure in every regard. Now, let’s get real about eliminating the illegal market, protecting consumers and determining the role of government – a role that most certainly does not include transferring money from bettors to multi-billion dollar sports leagues.”


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