Stern Changes Stance on Legalizing Gambling Ahead of Vegas Conference

The Global Gaming Expo will take place at the end of September in Las Vegas, which is no surprise considering Sin City is well-known worldwide for its gambling. What is surprising though is that former NBA commissioner David Stern is scheduled to speak at the conference on September 29 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center.

Stern had long opposed sports betting throughout his entire 30-year career as the league’s top-ranking official. However, he appears to have changed his mind in siding with current commish Adam Silver, who has publicly stated his support for legalized and regulated betting on numerous occasions. Stern joining Silver on board the pro-gambling bandwagon can only help strengthen the argument for legalization and regulation, turning another basketball icon from an opponent to a proponent.

Stern’s appearance at the Global Gaming Expo – the world’s largest gaming convention – will focus on the discussion of sports betting and its impact on professional sports. He will talk about the subject with Geoff Freeman, the president and CEO of the American Gaming Association. Previously, Stern was on record as saying that he thought sports gambling would hurt the relationship between fans and their teams because more people would be taking an interest in the sport solely from a betting perspective instead.

Now that Stern is more than two years removed from being commish, he has taken a much different view and believes that additional interest could be good for the game. Silver simply wants the most people he can possibly get to watch the NBA and follow it closely regardless of whether or not they are gambling on the games. He realizes the sport’s growth can be impacted by many different types of people, including bettors. Stern seems to understand that as well and does not have to deal with the heavy opposition on a regular basis since he is no longer in a position of power.

Under Stern’s watch, referee Tim Donaghy was busted in the biggest betting scandal in league history during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. Stern has continuously claimed that Donaghy was a rogue official and acted alone, although many believe other referees were involved too in additional games before and after that time. Legalizing sports betting would likely lead to increased monitoring of referees and other officials as part of regulation in order to further protect the integrity of the game.