In the debut edition on Monday of the “Golic and Wingo” morning show on ESPN Radio, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver joined as a guest and addressed, among other things, the matter of expanded sports betting legalization in the United States and the Supreme Court Sports Betting case (Christie v NCAA).
“Where are you three years removed from this piece?” Golic asked Silver, referring to Silver’s famous op-ed in the New York Times in which he expresses support for legal, regulated sports betting in the United States.
SportsHandle has often (and recently) criticized the NBA’s mixed messages on sports betting in light of their words and actions in connection with the 1992 federal law PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act). Recently the league’s stance has come into greater focus, and that is that they want a federal framework for sports betting — not for states to have the ability to individually decide how to regulate, license and tax it. That might make life easier for the Association, but would impair if not eliminate states’ ability to address the needs and particular circumstances existing in their boundaries.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Addresses Sports Betting on “Golic and Wingo” on ESPN Radio, Explaining Why They’re Fighting New Jersey and Advocating for Federal Sports Betting Framework
You can listen to Silver here beginning at the 7:00 mark or just read the transcript that SportsHandle prepared:
When we published that piece three years ago I would have never predicted that actually next week in front of the Supreme Court, the legality of the New Jersey state law permitting, in essence, sports betting within the boundaries of their state is being argued. Which means that the state of New Jersey has challenged the constitutionality of the federal law that in essence bans sports betting other than in Nevada and with a few other exceptions.
We defended that law against Governor Christie and that was before I became commissioner. And I’d say that’s largely because, at least now, our view is that it should not be regulated state by state, that there should be federal legislation, that it is proper for Congress to address this issue.
But my position, which is a little different than my predecessor’s, has been that we should regulate it, we should legalize it. It’s not to me that I’m pro or con sports betting. We know now that it goes on largely underground. Hundreds of billions of dollars are bet every year just in the United States on sports betting.
Back to what I was saying about what happens internationally in soccer. It’s legal in most other jurisdictions in the world, particularly in Europe where people bet on the their smartphones throughout soccer games. It’s closely regulated, they can monitor if there’s any illegal activity, something we can’t do right now.
“Where I differ from the state of New Jersey — largely it’s that I think there should be federal policy. It should be consistent from state to state. States should be able to elect whether they want to be in or out. If a state doesn’t want to legalize sports betting they shouldn’t be forced to do it. So I agree it should be a state decision.
I worry a little bit about the monitoring of it. The integrity of it for the sports leagues that need to follow it. If you have 50 states competing against each other, it could be a race to the bottom in terms of ultimately how to do the best job of protecting consumers. The people who place the bets and protecting the integrity of our league.
I will say from three years ago, I’m surprised things are happening so quickly. Again this issue is before the Supreme Court next week. They’ll likely decide the case by June of next year. And I think even if the Supreme Court leaves in place existing federal law, there seems to be a lot of interest in Congress in favor of addressing the issue. I think in part because states see that this exists, they figure they might as well regulate it, collect tax money on it frankly.”
So that’s where the NBA stands. Recently we learned that the NBA is having conversations with New Jersey Representative Frank Pallone Jr. (NJ-6) about a possible federal law, the GAME Act, that would in some way create a framework that Silver and the league desire.
Meanwhile next week New Jersey and the leagues will do battle in oral argument at the United States Supreme Court. For a primer on how oral argument works, check out our conversation with veteran SCOTUS litigator Glen D. Nager, who has argued before the high court 13 times and also defeated the NFL in an antitrust case in 2010.