'Boring' is one word that definitely can't be applied to the ongoing online gambling debate in the US, whatever side of the fence you might be on. While online gambling is legal in a handful of states, there’s been a concerted effort this year to lobby Congress to extend its reach.
Things started off well, but with the President himself seemingly unable to make up his mind, a resolution in favour of online gaming and sports betting looked increasingly distant. Until recently, both the president and all major US sports leagues were in full support of continuing the betting ban. But the NBA changed its mind....
Now however, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has changed its stance and come out in support of legalising and regulating sports betting. Although the NBA did previously say that it supported regulation of sports betting in theory, there was never any outright statement of support. That has now changed.
This shift in stance can probably be attributed, at least to some extent, to a change in commissioner. When the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was put in place back in 1992, then NBA commissioner David Stern threw his support behind the Federal regulation.
His successor, Adam Silver, has been far more accommodating of the idea of legalised sports betting. In 2014, Silver actually wrote in the New York Times that he was in favour of legalisation, stating that sports betting is happening anyway as an underground business, so surely it's better to simply legalise and regulate it properly.
Silver has also stated that he thinks the laws will soon change anyway. The NBA's current attitude was summed up by Dan Spillane, NBA vice president and assistant General Counsel, when he said the while attending MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in 2015:
"Our view has been that if it’s illegal [at the federal level], that’s not the right way to start off legal sports betting in the United States – under a cloud, doing it in violation of federal law. At the same time, we agree with New Jersey on the ultimate policy outcome: that having legal, regulated sports betting in the United States is the best place to end up. The disagreement is just on how to get there."
What makes this development even more interesting is that the NBA isn't alone in its views. The American Major League Soccer Commissioner, Don Garber, has also voiced his support for legalised sports betting, by saying:
"I am a big proponent that if it’s going to happen, we might as well be in front of it. I think there are great values to our tax revenues to be able to do that, I don’t think we can stop it, so maybe we’d even lead the charge. Gambling on games, betting on games, is part of the DNA of football around the world."
These comments would have seemed almost impossible even a few months ago, back when the notion that sports betting or online gambling in general would be legal was looking extremely unlikely. What's more, all the major US sports organisations were essentially unanimously behind keeping it that way.
Extensive lobbying however, and the growing, albeit small, number of states that have successfully increased their revenue through legalised online gambling, are starting to have an impact. Now, it seems more likely that it's not a case of if online gambling and sports betting will be legalised in the US, but simply a case of when.
The NBA and Major League Soccer organisations could well be the first drops before the flood, and it's certainly likely that all major sports organisations in the country will quickly line up behind legislation if it means more profits for them.
This makes sense, given that the amount of states legalising sports betting and online gaming is growing naturally at its own pace. In the end, regulation should mean safer, better betting for everyone involved. Check back with Gambling.com's Betting News for updates on the latest organizations to back the legalization of gambling in the US!