NBA Commissioner Adam Silver turned some heads when he pushed for legalized sports betting with his op-ed piece in the New York Times. He is the first professional sports commissioner to make such a stand on the issue. There are only a few states that have control over regulation of sports betting. Those lucky states are Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. The rest of the USA is under the harsh thumb of the federal government. Silver wants that to change and he is making as much noise as possible to make it happen.
I don’t know much about Adam Silver as a guy. I do know I didn’t like David Stern a whole helluva lot, so I imagine Silver has to be better than the grouchy commissioner that Stern had evolved into. I do love the fact that Silver had the balls to come out like he did. Most of these high level guys in pro sports and even college athletics don’t have the guts to rock the boat at all. They don’t even have the nerve to get in the boat, much less create any waves.
Before I put Adam Silver up for sports’ sainthood, I will state the obvious. There is something in it for Silver and his league. He is not taking this stand to help casinos out or all you degenerate gamblers out there who need a better outlet for throwing your money away. He will use legalized gambling to increase profits for the NBA. That is the main object of any business, no matter how benevolent their motives. Businesses need to make a profit to stay in business. By having states be able to have legalized gambling, the NBA will be able to charge licensing fees to sports books and that is just one of the possible revenue streams.
Would legalized gambling be good for the public at large? I am always of the opinion that grown ups should be able to do as they wish as long as it does not harm others. That is a deep discussion, as folks with gambling problems could harm their family by tossing away much needed income on a Lakers game. But adults can’t be treated like toddlers by their government either. That is just not healthy and furthermore, it is not right.
By the way, people are gambling right now anyway. And the NBA, nor any other league is benefiting from it directly. There is a huge underground for betting on sports, especially football. Not breaking news I know. But the numbers are insane. Over $3.5 billion was bet on sports at Nevada sports books in 2013, according to the Center of Gaming Research at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Experts believe that huge number is only one percent of the total amount bet in the United States illegally. There is no good way to know how accurate that stat is, but considering all the football pools, person to person bets, shady bookie wagers, and March Madness office brackets, I would not doubt the estimate.
What are the other powers that be in pro sports saying?I will pretend that pro hockey is relevant for a moment. Here is a quote from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly. “You don’t want guys in the stands with bet tickets in their hands and the only reason they’re watching the game is so they can cash in on a bet afterward,”. Mr. Daly is either on drugs or delusional about the importance of his sport in the USA. If he were lucid, he would be happy to have people in the stands at a NHL game no matter the reason. Whether a fan is there for their favorite team, to watch their betting action live, or they are just out for a good time, butts in seats is a positive thing.
The NFL has enough problems with domestic abuse right now. So they surely want no part of this discussion that Adam Silver has brought to the spotlight. The league is against gambling on NFL games, period. They have no problem with the fact that underground bets account for much of their popularity however. The NFL also has no problem with sites like FanDuel and DraftKings paying out cash for fantasy football play. That is legal according to the feds, even though it is clear that winning money on fantasy football is gambling. The NFL is not going to go against their buddies in Congress and other government positions. They are all wrapped up in classic corporate back slapping. The NFL even goes along with affiliations with state run lotteries. There are scratch off tickets with NFL licensed team themes. These tickets may be the worst form of gambling on Earth. It is a proven fact that the poorest of people play these games and the odds are pathetic. So it is nice to see the NFL keeping its streak of hypocrisy alive.
Do I want gambling on sports to be legal and thus easy to bet whenever I want? Yes. Not because I am a high roller who can’t wait to get some action on four games a weekend. I would like the option though. America is allegedly a free country, so what is the hold up? Winning money on fantasy sports is cool and I am glad that loophole is in place. I hope it never closes. But regular betting should be an option for individuals. Just because the federal law changes, doesn’t mean every state will allow sports betting. But each state will have that option. That is not a perfect scenario, but it is better than the gigantic federal folks making the rules for everyone across the board.
The old folks of sports are slowly going away. I like old people, but the powerful ones have held a lot of progress back in this country. I salute Adam Silver for taking a stance that is aimed toward the benefit of a younger generation who is not going to put up with being restricted at every turn. Silver isn’t doing this as a freedom fighter. He is doing it to benefit the NBA. I am fine with that. Getting more freedom and less pointless laws as a result of a business man trying to increase profits should be applauded.