NBA Commissioner Adam Silver believes legalized sports betting is "inevitable" in more states throughout the U.S., and he's open to have the league be a partner.
Speaking at a Bloomberg Sports Business Summit in New York City on Thursday, Silver predicted more cash-strapped states would join Nevada in implementing legalized betting. He said the NBA could potentially benefit and profit from embracing the process.
“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, according to Bloomberg.
Silver said there were opportunities for the NBA to profit from the increased engagement of fans who are betting.
“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.”
Silver's feelings toward betting represents a significant shift from his predecessor, David Stern. In 2012, the NBA, along with the NHL, NFL, and MLB, sued the state of New Jersey for attempting to implement legalized sports betting in casinos and race tracks to raise revenue. In deposition testimony, Stern chided New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for his view on the issue.
"The one thing I'm certain of is New Jersey has no idea what it's doing and doesn't care because all it's interested in is making a buck or two," Stern said in November 2012, according to ESPN.com. "They don't care that it's at our potential loss."