Adam Silver opens the debate for gambling in the NBA
By LIAM BEVANS
College Contributor Network
In 2007 the NBA, and the sports world in general, was rocked by the Tim Donaghy saga. The betting scandal brought the integrity of the NBA under fire, and cast a dark cloud over the league. The stain of Donaghy has never quite left the game, he pops out from under a rock every once in a while to sling accusations of game-fixing at the league office. That's why I was so surprised when Adam Silver finally stepped forward and made his stance on sports gambling public.
For the first time in America, a Commissioner of a major sports league has spoken out in favor of sports betting. He has taken the taboo topic out of the darkness and brought it into the public sphere of debate, a decidedly brilliant move. According to the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, Americans dropped $3.9 billion on sports books in 2014, and Adam Silver wants a piece of that action. He understands that the NBA is missing out on a chance to make a huge chunk of money by getting in on the ground floor of the betting industry, and he finally has a group of owners who are willing to listen to his plan.
Despite Silver's pro-gambling stance, the situation is still rather convoluted and finicky. The NBA is currently suing the state of New Jersey, along with the NFL and NCAA, to prevent their repeal of current state restrictions against sports betting. What Adam Silver is looking for is a big picture solution, not just a free-for-all of unregulated and unsupervised betting on a state-by-state basis.
In his op-ed piece in the New York Times the commissioner wrote "Without a comprehensive federal solution, state measures such as New Jersey's recent initiative will be both unlawful and bad public policy." What Silver is looking for is a system that can be implemented nationwide, allowing the onus of protecting and monitoring the betting to be placed on individual states after they legally implement sports betting.
With a national framework in place, one which requires strict regulations and the newest technology to monitor and limit spending, Silver is confident the NBA will be able to function without fear of another gambling scandal. They will be able to track the betting activities of every single individual involved with the league, thus allowing them to catch any and all infractions committed against the integrity of the game.
Adam Silver is putting it all on the line on this issue, and it could turn out to be the best gamble of his short tenure.
Liam Bevans is a graduate student at Boston College. He has spent the last six years working for the BC football team both as a student and as an intern. Follow him on twitter: @liham_andcheese