The NBA says betting on pro sports is a slam dunk.
A league attorney tossed up a plan Wednesday for the NBA to get a cut of legalized sports-betting in New York. Under the NBA’s proposal, the league would receive 1% of every bet on its games. Such a move — which would require legislation at the state or federal level — would create a massive new revenue stream for the league.
Gamblers in the U.S. make as much as $200 billion in illegal bets per year, according to expert estimates.
“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,” NBA attorney Dan Spillane said in testimony before the State Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering in Albany Wednesday.
The testimony came as the U.S. Supreme Court considers a New Jersey case challenging a 1992 federal ban on sports betting in all but four states, Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon.
Pro leagues have opposed legalized sports betting, but the NBA says its position has “evolved” in recent years.
The Supreme Court’s decision could pave the way for individual states to legalize sports betting. As many as 18 states will introduce bills to regulate the gambling this year.
No plans are underway for new regulations in New York should the federal ban be struck down.
But the league still felt a sense of urgency.
The NBA could not “sit on the sidelines” as states prepare for the court’s decision, Spillane said.
A cut of the gambling money was of particular importance.
“Sports leagues provide the foundation for sports betting while bearing the risks that sports betting imposes, even when regulated,” he said.
The NBA plan proposed additional components of sports-betting legislation:
- Allow detection of shady sports betting activity.
- Give leagues the right to restrict betting on their own events.
- Have consumer protection requirements that require the use of league data by betting operators.
- Allow online betting.
Spillane suggested New York could become a model for other places.
“The NBA’s first and paramount responsibility is to protect the integrity of professional basketball and preserve public confidence in the league and our sport,” he said.
The American Gaming Association praised the NBA’s advocacy — but scoffed at the idea that the league get a cut of bets.
“We can all agree that the 25-year ban on sports wagering has been a failure in every regard,” AGA President Geoff Freeman said. “Now, 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.”