Silver invites New Jersey governor to join him in a less confrontational search for wider sports betting
Adam Silver, the outspoken chief of the US National Basketball League, has invited New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to join him in a less confrontational approach to expanded sports betting… a lobbying initiative to persuade Congress to change the presently restrictive Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.
The New Jersey approach has so far been to unilaterally introduce state laws to allow intrastate sports betting, a process that has triggered expensive and protracted litigation by the national sports leagues and the Department of Justice, and which is still not fully resolved (see previous InfoPowa reports).
Silver is in favour of a more realistic approach to sports betting than the PASPA, which restricts sports betting to just four US states, but he suggests a more political strategy could work.
In a recent interview with ESPN he said that rather than fight New Jersey and other states, his league can work with them to establish a uniform federal structure that would acknowledge that sports gambling already takes place in many venues that are far from Las Vegas sports books.
"Governor Christie, and I'm happy to join him, should turn his attention to Washington, D.C., to Congress, and say, 'Here are all the reasons it should be regulated, but let's come up with a framework that makes sense on a national basis presumably that would allow states to opt in,'" Silver told ESPN.
"Whether it's ESPN with 'Bracketology;' whether it's all the [betting] lines in every national newspaper, on every web service; my point was there's massive, massive sports betting going on in this country," Silver said.
"Estimates are that it's up to $400 billion a year. And my view is, if it's going to go on, let's make it transparent, let's bring it into the sunlight, so to speak, and let's regulate it, the same way we do a lot of other industries."
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has applauded Silver's move for advancing the conversation around the wider availability of legal sports betting.
"Having somebody like Adam Silver speak out is powerful, and I think it's going to take folks like him … maybe that's what it takes to move it," he said. "It could be brought into the mainstream economy, instead of money changing hands the way it does now."
However, Markell is not optimistic about persuading Congress to move on the issue, saying:
"With all the unbelievable dysfunction in Washington, it's sort of hard to see much happening. I'd be perfectly happy to be wrong."
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