NBA’s Silver Says Legal Sports Gambling in U.S. Is Inevitable

Legalized sports gambling in the U.S. is likely to spread and the National Basketball Association expects to profit from it, league Commissioner Adam Silver said.

The NBA joined other U.S. professional sports leagues in opposing a plan to legalize sports gambling in New Jersey, and a federal judge agreed in March, throwing out a law that would have permitted wagering at racetracks and Atlantic City casinos.

While the NBA did not support New Jersey Governor Christopher Christie’s plan to implement sports gambling, the league does expect to face and profit from the broadening of legal sports gaming in the U.S., Silver said at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit in New York.

“It’s inevitable that, if all these states are broke, that there will be legalized sports betting in more states than Nevada and we will ultimately participate in that,” said Silver, 52.

Silver, who has been with the NBA for 22 years and replaced former Commissioner David Stern in February, said that he doesn’t have any moral issue with sports betting. The league, which already allows teams to create marketing deals with casinos, would further profit from the legalization of sports wagering outside Nevada, he said.

“If you have a gentleman’s bet or a small wager on any kind of sports contest, it makes you that much more engaged in it,” Silver said. “That’s where we’re going to see it pay dividends. If people are watching a game and clicking to bet on their smartphones, which is what people are doing in the United Kingdom right now, then it’s much more likely you’re going to stay tuned for a long time.”

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