The NBA seems to be evolving more than other professional sport in the United States right now to become a more worldwide brand, and commissioner Adam Silver continues to lead the charge.
Silver has been outspoken with his thoughts on the legalization of sports betting in the U.S. beginning with his popular opinion piece published in the New York Times nearly two years ago in November of 2014. Back in April, the league also approved the selling of advertisements on jerseys to generate additional revenue, something that is already done successfully with European soccer teams.
Moving forward, the next big steps the NBA can take to help legalize sports gambling is to back out of the highly-publicized New Jersey case and lobby Congress to regulate it. Silver appeared on ESPN’s SportsCenter at the end of May and explained his feelings on the subject, noting that legalization and regulation is the best solution to the growing problem of underground sports betting in the U.S.
He is also in favor of Daily Fantasy Sports, which are still outlawed in certain states, including Nevada.
Silver has admitted his focus as commissioner is on protecting the integrity of pro basketball in the NBA, and he realizes sports gambling is a multi-billion-dollar business. In addition, he believes in transparency and understands that sports betting and DFS could add another level of interaction with NBA games if legalized nationwide.
In his latest interview on ESPN, he compared sports betting to the stock market and noted that you cannot know if insider trading is going on if you do not have an open exchange.
Insider trading was brought to light in pro sports recently when golfer Phil Mickelson was named in an insider trading case involving legendary bettor Billy Walters. Mickelson reportedly owed Walters money from lost wagers he made with him and was tipped off on when to buy and sell stock in Dean Foods in order to re-pay his gambling debt.
Walters is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for insider trading based on info he received from former Dean Foods chairman Thomas Davis. Meanwhile, Mickelson has not been charged by the SEC after he agreed to forfeit the money he earned by selling the shares, valued at $931,000 plus interest.
Many more professional athletes are obviously known to gamble, with none bigger than NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. Silver knows this, which is why he is continuing his crusade to legalize sports betting. New Jersey is still fighting for legalization within its state borders as well, but most of the major pro sports leagues have strongly opposed it to prevent that from happening.
If New Jersey does eventually legalize sports betting as many advocates hope, it could set a precedent for other states to follow and open the federal floodgate for regulation. Silver’s ongoing public support certainly helps the cause, but his future actions will definitely speak louder than his words and could be the difference in whether or not other leagues follow his lead.