As two Senators renew a quest to ban online gambling in the United States, another prominent figure is supporting the all-out national legalization of sports betting. On Monday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke with ESPN Radio’s Mike Golic and Trey Wingo on the aptly named “Golic and Wingo” show and addressed, in part, his desire to see sports betting finally legalized and regulated on the federal level.
Silver has been a proponent of legalized sports betting for a while now, first making his feelings known publicly in a November op-ed in The New York Times, just a few months after he took the helm of the NBA. His attitude is essentially that people like to bet on sports, so might as well let them do it in a relatively safe, regulated environment.
In the piece, he talked about how there was “an obvious appetite among sports fans for a safe and legal way to wager on professional sporting events” and how the publication of betting lines is commonplace.
“Outside of the United States,” he added, “sports betting and other forms of gambling are popular, widely legal and subject to regulation. In England, for example, a sports bet can be placed on a smartphone, at a stadium kiosk or even using a television remote control.”
He said he wanted the federal government to legalize and regulate sports betting, with operators required to have safeguards and technology in place to prevent abuse and monitor betting activity.
On Monday, he reiterated these same points with Mike Golic and Trey Wingo. He said he is not “pro” or “con” sports betting, but rather that he’s a pragmatist and that regulation just makes sense.
“It’s legal in most other jurisdictions in the world, particularly in Europe, where people bet on their smart phones throughout soccer games, it’s closely regulated, they can monitor if there’s an irregularity activity, something we cannot do right now because it’s largely all illegal,” he said.
Silver does not believe, though, that states should come up with their own regulations, like they currently do for gambling. Instead, Silver told Golic and Wingo, “….I think there should be federal policy, it should be consistent from state to state, I think states should be able to elect whether they want to be in or out, if a state doesn’t want to have legalized sports betting they shouldn’t be forced to do it, so I agree it should be a state decision.”
He added that he is surprised that things have advanced so quickly in the three years since his op-ed, as the New Jersey sports betting case is expected to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court next week.
“And I think even if the Supreme Court leaves in place the existing federal law, there seems to be a lot of interest in Congress in favor of addressing the issue. And I think in part because states see that this exists, and they figure they might as well regulate it and collect tax money on it, frankly.”