NBA Commissioner Silver Publicly Asks Gov. Christie to Join Movement for Sports Betting Expansion

In an interview conducted by ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” Commissioner Silver told host Andy Kantz that Governor Christie should turn his attention to Congress in Washington D.C. . He added that they should work together to come up with a framework that “makes sense on a national basis,” which would presumably allow other U.S. states to opt in.

Commissioner Silver conveyed via the ESPN/ABC “Capital Games” podcast that he would prefer a situation in which the NBA could work with New Jersey and other states to set up a uniform federal framework. The structure would acknowledge that sports gambling is taking place outside of Nevada’s legal sports book venues, despite the enactment of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) 1992 more than two decades ago.

Although the NBA Commissioner’s New York Times op-ed last month expressed support for the expansion of legal sportsbetting beyond the four states of Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon, it was the first time he addressed his support to the New Jersey governor. The Commissioner told Mr. Kantz that his real purpose in writing the NY Times op-ed last month was to “break the ice” as a way of initiating a real conversation on the sports gambling issue.

His NY Time editorial piece mainly called on Congress to legislate laws that will make the 1992 PASPA relevant with the changing times and in tune with the advancements in technology. He advocates the institution of federal laws that legalize sports wagering in all U.S. states that opt to do so, but governed by regulatory conditions and requirements for technological systems capable of performing age, identity and geo-location verifications, as well as equipped with the ability to identify, recognize, and deny access to persons with adverse gambling behaviors.

Commissioner Silver said that the point he is driving at is that massive sports betting is taking place in the country, which based on estimates reaches up to $400 billion annually. He added that in his view, and if it continues to go on, it would be best to make everything crystal clear by regulating sports betting in the same way the government does with other industries.

In another Capital Games podcast, New Jersey’s next-door neighbor, Delaware Governor Jack Markell, applauded the NBA Commissioner’s actions for advancing discussions over sports gambling in the U.S. Like Gov. Christie, the Delaware governor also lost a federal sportsbetting case, albeit in pushing for expansion of the allowed gambling activities in Delaware. Although Delaware, Montana, and Oregon are allowed to offer sports betting, the PASPA federal law allows the three states to offer sports lottery only, which is via a single-ticket betting for multiple NFL games.

Gov. Markell said he considers it powerful to have somebody like the NBA Commissioner speaking out in bringing expanded legal sports gambling into the conventional economy, instead of letting “money changing hands the way it does now.” Governor Markell, though, is not optimistic that even if Gov. Christie and Commissioner Silver jointly spearhead a movement for the expansion of sports gambling in the U.S., he believes that Washington. D.C. is too dysfunctional to make such changes. Still, the Delaware governor said he would be perfectly happy to be proven wrong.

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