The NBA wants to legalize sports gambling for a price

The NBA wants to increase its revenues by taking a 1 percent cut on all bets placed on its games, said a request made by the league to the New York State Senate.

Per Brian Windhorst, the request is seen as an example for other professional leagues to replicate, opening the doors in favor of nationwide sports gambling.

“We have studied these issues at length,”NBA attorney Dan Spillane said in his statement to lawmakers. “Our conclusion is that the time has come for a different approach that gives sports fans a safe and legal way to wager on sporting events while protecting the integrity of the underlying competitions.”

The NBA’s move is preemptive. The U.S. Supreme Court is considering hearing a case that clears the way for individual states to legalize sports betting at casinos and racetracks. It is currently illegal to wager on sports outside of Nevada, but a number of states are preparing legislation should the courts clear the way for nationwide betting.

The NBA, along with other major sports leagues, have opposed rules in favor of sports gambling in the past. Flipping their position allows the league to carve out a piece in a $5 billion industry, a number that would skyrocket if gambling spread across all 50 states.

The American Gambling Association issued a statement that said that the role of government “most certainly does not include transferring money from bettors to multi-billion dollar sports leagues.”

This NBA responded with its own statement.

“Sports leagues provide the foundation for sports betting while bearing the risks it imposes, even when regulated,” league spokesman Michael Bass said. “If sports betting is legalized federally or state by state, we will need to invest more in compliance and enforcement and believe it is reasonable for operators to pay each league 1% of the total amount bet on its games to help compensate for the risk and expense created and the commercial value our product provides them. This is a similar approach to legally-regulated sports betting in other international jurisdictions.”

The stories behind this potential political battle will be written in the coffers of lobbyists and politicians. A handful of NBA owners are generous political donors, and the league itself has hired lobbyists in the past to promote its causes.

The league spent $370,000 in 2007, the highest it’s spent in the last 20 years. The NBA didn’t spend any lobbying dollars in the last two years.


Depending on the Supreme Court’s spring decision, the NBA could quickly ramp up spending in the coming years. And with the NBA leading the way, you can expect other leagues to follow right behind.


What do you think about the NBA’s gambling plan? Should major league’s stop fighting the proliferation of sports gambling and take a cut of the action? Leave a comment below. 






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