The movement toward legalized sports gambling continues to grow stronger, and the topic continues to grow more relevant as the Supreme Court deals with a New Jersey-based case on the matter.
The reality of legal sports betting is slowly becoming imminent and the National Basketball Association has recognized this by taking a definitive stance in benefitting from it. In late January, the NBA testified and requested to a New York State committee that laws be created to form a foundation for nationally legalized wagering on games of professional sports leagues.
“We believe a federal approach is the simplest way to create clear and uniform protections for the integrity of our games,” the NBA’s statement read, according to Sports Illustrated.
In addition to advocating for a regulated form of sports gambling, the NBA sees an opportunity to generate revenue by getting a piece of the betting action.
A two-part request was made vocal by NBA attorney Dan Spillane, which led with the league receiving one percent of every bet made on NBA games, along with other regulations. This alone could provide a substantial boost to league revenue, but the financial windfall could be even greater should the second part of the league’s request take form.
Spillane, in addition to speaking about the one percent aspect, advocated for a form of gambling that is more accessible for fans. The NBA and Spillane are pushing to make bets occur legally on smartphones and at kiosks, freeing the range of betting from onsite exclusively to mobile. This could exponentially increase the number of bets being made on NBA games and thus exponentially increase the potential revenue the NBA could generate.
To provide some perspective on the potential gains, Nevada saw $4.5 billion in sports wagers in 2016, according to an ESPN report. While much of that betting is on other sports, like horse racing and boxing, if even five percent of that betting is NBA related, a one percent cut of all bets would bring in roughly a few million dollars per year.
The NBA is something of a trendsetter when it comes to new innovations, and the step it is taking with gambling is a beneficial one that other sports leagues will certainly follow. The potential windfall from profits, especially if betting becomes mobile, would be too alluring for other leagues to not adopt.
These profits could be used in a variety of ways by the NBA, especially considering the number of different directives the league has, and the different priorities commissioner Adam Silver outlined when he took the position a few years ago.
One method could be to aid in NBA expansion and popularity on a national level. Another method could be using the money to assist in taking NBA games to other countries and continents to give international fans a chance to see NBA action at home.
This excess revenue could also become a piece in solving the one–and-done issue, which has become a particularly hot topic lately amid the latest scandal of non-professional athletes being paid under the table. The NBA and NCAA would have to work together, but such money could be utilized to create a deal where athletes are drafted into and paid by the NBA but still compete in college in a way that reminisces a G-League affiliation.
While it is still undetermined whether the NBA will have its wishes granted with a federal and legal form of sports begging, the association is taking the right step by diving into discussions and seeing what comes out of it. As per usual, the NBA is ahead of the curve, and if the league does see sports betting introduced outside of Las Vegas, the money could help achieve a lot of Silver’s desires.
Kyle Kasharian is a business major from Green, N.J. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ItsKyleKash.