NBA and MLB head to Connecticut in sports betting battle

Fresh from defeat in West Virginia and discord in Missouri, representatives from the NBA and Major League Basketball (MLB) have moved their sports betting bandwagon over to Connecticut, testifying in hearings at the Connecticut Senate.

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But as the scenery changes, the song remains the same from the associations, who have reiterated their calls for a 1% integrity fee to be introduced, as they have done previously in both prior states.

The move comes amid proposals to legalise sports betting in Connecticut, where the Public Safety and Security Committee, Co-Chaired by Democratic Representative Joe Verrengia, is considering the public impact of such a change in the law.

Speaker of the House, Democratic Representative Joe Aresimowicz said that the senate must consider all gambling options and that "Connecticut should be ready to go from both a regulatory and operational standpoint."

NBA Senior Vice President and Legal Counsel Dan Spillane was leading the charge for the associations, telling the assembled senators: “Sports betting is built on our games, on our product, on the interest in our product that is generated by the leagues.

“Sports leagues invest billions of dollars into staging these competitions, in terms of generating fan engagement and in terms of generally protecting the integrity of our sports.”

Sentiments that were echoed by his opposite number in the MLB, Brian Seeley, who added: “My sense is that fans watch our games … because they are spontaneous, they’re unpredictable, they’re not scripted, they’re some of the best athletes in the world striving to do their best in every play.

“And so anything that changes that, anything that makes fans lose confidence in the spontaneity … could affect our [leagues] in a major way.”

Unfortunately, it seems as it was in the other states that the association’s demands will fall on deaf ears, with Representative Verrengia making his position very clear: “What I’m not for, quite frankly, is legislation that in some way, shape or form would line the pockets of, whether it’s Major League Baseball or NBA, or any other major league sports’ owners.”

So, once again it looks as though state legislators and sporting associations will continue to be at loggerheads over the future of sports betting should any reversal of PASPA occur. Whether the Supreme Court decision will spark harmony between the two is anyone’s guess, but in any event it is highly likely that this row will rumble on for the foreseeable future.

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