In an attempt to capitalize on the profitability of sports betting, the NBA has publicly announced its support for legislation that will legalize this type of gambling. Currently, a federal law exists that bans betting on individual games and matches in all states except Nevada. The Supreme Court is expected to rule later this year on whether the act should be overturned.
A representative from the NBA, Dan Spillane, proposed a plan to the New York State Senate Committee detailing the league’s involvement in the battle for legalized sports gambling. The proposal includes sections that the NBA hopes a possible senate bill will include. “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,” testified Spillane.
As part of the NBA’s proposal, the league is requesting one percent of every bet made on its games. Labeling the charge an “integrity fee,” the NBA justifies its necessity by arguing that sports betting places risks upon the league. “Sports leagues provide the foundation for sports betting while bearing the risks it imposes, even when regulated,” said NBA spokesperson Michael Bass.
Other components of the NBA’s plan include giving leagues the right to restrict betting on their events and legalizing online betting. Additionally, the NBA aims for access to sports gambling. The league strives to increase the amount of wagering by legalizing betting on smartphones and kiosks.
In its plan, the NBA also includes strategies for protecting consumers. Such proposals include age restrictions and intensive training for operators. Furthermore, the league wants to limit certain bets that could be easily manipulated, such as prop bets.
While proposing the strategy to the New York State Senate, the NBA wants to use it as a framework for laws throughout the country. States are preparing for the possibility that the Supreme Court will decide in favor of overturning the current ban. As many as 18 states will introduce sports betting legalization bills this year.
Sports betting has proved to be a profitable enterprise. In 2016, gamblers in Nevada waged $4.5 billion on sports. The figures for 2017 are estimated to reach a record $5 billion. Throughout the United States, gamblers are believed to earn around $200 billion on illegal bets each year.
While the trade group that represents the U.S. casino industry, the American Gaming Association (AGA), praised the NBA’s support of the legalization of sports betting, it criticized the league’s proposed fee. “Let’s get real about eliminating the illegal market, protecting consumers and determining the role of government – a role that most certainly does not include transferring money from bettors to multi-billion dollar sports leagues.”
Historically, the NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB and NCAA have all opposed the legalization of sports betting. However, the NBA said its viewpoint has evolved. In 2014, the NBA commissioner wrote an opinion piece in support of legal betting for The New York Times.