NBA Commissioner Supports Sports Betting Again, While New Jersey Fights On

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver (l.) is on record saying he supports regulated legal sports betting in the U.S. In a recent interview, he reaffirmed that position saying sports betting is good for business. Meanwhile, New Jersey state Senator Raymond Lesniak, says the state has its best chance ever to move forward with sports betting as it awaits a ruling be a federal appeals court.

Speaking on the “Boomer & Carson” radio show, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver again backed legalizing sports betting saying it would be “good for business.”

Silver said his stance—he first came out in favor of legalized sports betting in an op-ed column in the New York Times last year—has prompted a response from the commissioners of other leagues.

“I did speak to all the other commissioners,” he said. “There was a range of reactions. Some were, ‘What are you doing?’ Others were, ‘Let’s study it, seems like an interesting idea.’ And that is not that we’re necessarily out there promoting sports betting, but the latest estimate is there’s somewhere between $300 and $400 billion a year being bet on sports in this country.”

Silver also said he feels regulated sports betting would better protect the leagues against scandal than the atmosphere of illegal sports betting does.

“Because they have all that data, they’re able to monitor it,” Silver said. “And if there’s any irregular activity whatsoever, it’s like tracking insider trading on the New York Stock Exchange. If there’s a blip, if there’s unusual activity, they know to investigate. So first the issue for us is if all this betting is going to go on anyway, we should be able to monitor it. And then, No. 2, if all this betting activity is going to go on anyway, make it legal.

“Gambling is good for business, I don’t want to hide that,” he said. “Putting aside whether or not we’re actually involved in any of the betting, it creates more engagement. We all know as fans if you have, even like a gentleman’s bet or a $5 bet with your friend on a game, all of a sudden you’re a lot more interested.”

In New Jersey, state Senator Raymond Lesniak has the reputation of being the biggest advocate of legal sports betting in New Jersey—as well as online gambling—and he says he is feeling hopeful again.

Lesniak—speaking at the iGaming North Convention in Las Vegas—says there is an 85 to 90 percent chance that a June court ruling will either let the state begin sports betting, or at least guide the way to a legal way to provide sports betting.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia is expected to rule on the sports betting case June 26. The state had been blocked in another federal court from allowing self-regulated—but with no state regulations—sports betting at casinos and racetracks in the state.

“What I think is very unlikely, is that they’ll just throw the case out,” Lesniak said. “This circuit by the way, this panel, is the best shot we will have ever.”

Lesniak said he felt the circuit judges asked tough questions of lawyers opposing the state’s move and that he took hope from that.

The state revoked its laws against sports betting to allow self-regulated sports betting at the casinos and racetracks. The state feels that self-regulated sports betting is not illegal under federal law, which bans state-regulated sports betting.

The four major professional leagues and the NCAA have opposed the law, gaining an injunction against it in federal court last year.