NBA Commissioner Voices Support for Legalizing Sports Betting across All U.S. States

Adam Silver, who was named as the new Commissioner of the National Basketball Association (NBA) only this year, contributed an editorial piece to the New York Times Opinion Pages, expressing his support of movements to legalize and regulate sports betting outside of the U.S. states of Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon. The latter group being the only jurisdictions in which sports betting activities are recognized as legal by the U.S. federal government.

In the Op-Ed article published last November 13, 2014, Commissioner Silver acknowledged that in the past two decades since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) 1992 was enacted, illegal sports betting activities in the U.S. are still rampant and widespread.

The new NBA Chief recognizes the fact that betting on sporting events is popular among sports enthusiasts, while the mainstream media’s continuing publication of sports betting lines and spreads constantly whets the betting appetites of sports fans. Yet the imposition of the PASPA has made it possible for underground betting operators to thrive, because there are very few legal options available to American sports bettors.

He cited jurisdictions outside of the U.S. like England, which allows sports wagering and other forms of regulated betting business as legal industries, enabling sports aficionados to place bets on sporting events at stadium kiosks, or via online or Internet TV betting facilities using their desktops or smartphones. The Commissioner also mentioned New Jersey’s continuing efforts to push for legalized and regulated sports betting, since NJ’s electorate had demonstrated in the 2011 statewide referendum an overwhelming support for the State’s proposed sports betting legislation.

In view of such trends, Commissioner Silver believes that Congress should adapt to the changes that have transpired since PASPA’s enactment more than twenty years ago. He expressed advocacy for the amendment of existing sports betting laws, and for the institution of a federal framework that permits all U.S. states to legalize sports betting on professional sports matches, but subject to regulatory conditions and technological safeguards.

Mr. Silver’s proposed requirements include : • Establishing a set of licensing rules and procedures aimed at ensuring the legitimacy of sports betting operators; • Setting up of age-verification systems and measures; • Integrating geo-location confirmation technology that ensures sports betting products and services are available only in jurisdictions that recognize such type of gambling activity as legal; • Using identity-verification mechanisms that can recognize, exclude and prevent individuals with problem gambling behaviors to engage in sports wagering activities; • Furnish information and promote educational programs about responsible gambling;

In closing, the NBA Commissioner made it clear that his recommendation to bring sports betting out of the underground economy is in line with the objective of seeing the activities and transactions properly monitored and supervised.

He emphasized that any new movement toward the legalization of sports betting must not in any way compromise the integrity of sports matches, as he would be one to oppose courses of action that appear to do so. As the incumbent Commissioner of the NBA, he considers protecting the integrity of NBA games and preserving the public’s confidence, as among his most important responsibilities.

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