National Basketball Association on Sports Betting: Legalize It, Give Us a Cut

Arnold Nichols
January 26, 2018

Mix in the relative apathy towards long-perceived vices and it's a matter of time until professional leagues facilitate gambling.

The American Gaming Association praised the NBA's advocacy - but scoffed at the idea that the league get a cut of bets.

"To compensate leagues for the risk and expense created by betting and the commercial value our product creates for betting operators, we believe it is reasonable for operators to pay each league 1 percent of the total amount bet on its games", the National Basketball Association said.

The bill defines sports gambling as: a lottery, sweepstakes or other betting, gambling or wagering scheme based, directly or indirectly, on one or more competitive games in which amateur or professional athletes participate, or are meant to participate, or on one or more performances of such athletes in such games.

The league wants 1 percent of every bet made on its games, and if others follow suit, it could create big revenue for all sports leagues in the future.

"Second", Spillane's prepared statement read, "the legislation should recognize that sports leagues provide the foundation for sports betting while bearing the risks that sports betting imposes, even when regulated".


Lawmakers in several states are examining the issue following New Jersey's legal challenge to the 1992 federal law banning sports betting in all but four states: Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon. The NBA, with Major League Baseball, recently backed a similar 1 percent "integrity fee" in Indiana.

"Every other league still has held the hard line that they have no interest in any expansion of legalized sports betting in the country", he says.

As Spillane noted, states like NY already have legislation in place in the event that the New Jersey-based case, which has reached the Supreme Court, overturns the ban on widespread sports gambling in the near future. Several states, including NY, have legislation already in place in the event that the Supreme Court makes such a ruling. The 1% fee amounts to more than 20 percent of sports book revenues, according to William Hill sports book CEO Joe Asher.

It would also be a seminal moment for the sports world in general. "Now, lets 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".

It is estimated that hundreds of billions of dollars are illegally used on sports betting each year. "Bookmakers can easily find unusually large bet volumes on games and realized that those are likely to be fixed".

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