Betting in Sports: NBA Commissioner Silver has a Vision

By Kaleb Page

February 5, 2015

Sports and betting is almost as synonymous as peanut butter and jelly. Always you are seeing the over/under on a game, the line and other betting points for nearly every game or sport. One sport that has been rocked in the past with sport betting is the game of basketball and not at the lowest levels, but at its highest platform the NBA.

Back in 2007 the NBA was faced with a huge scandal involving then referee Tim Donaghy and betting on games. In ESPN’s column they said it was one of the ugliest gambling scandals to hit a professional sports league since the last two major ones involving the MLB in 1989 and 1919. At the time it hurt the integrity of the league because if an official was betting on games and/or games he was involved in then what is to stop the outcome from being fixed?

As the years passed since that huge incident and formal statements by the league against gambling were released; a new voice emerged on sports gambling. When David Stern retired, he turned the league over to long time associate Adam Silver. Silver assumed the role of commissioner on February 1, 2014 and shortly after taking the position released a op-ed for The New York Times with an interesting stance  on betting.

“I believe that sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.” – Adam Silver

Quite the statement for the new commissioner to make, especially after a relatively short time since a big scandal involving his league and betting happened. However, if you look at the op-ed by Silver his points make perfect sense. He pointed to how so much has changed since laws enacted back in 1992 made it illegal to gamble on sports in all states (except Nevada). One change being that even though the law was put in place, gambling on sports is still there and increasing in popularity each year.

Another great point made was that other countries have made betting on sport a legal and regulated practice that cuts away the dark ambiguous areas seen here in the U.S. with betting laws. For example, in England they have betting kiosks at stadiums that are legal and regulated by the government. With many changes globally, commissioner Silver made the motion toward Congress to adopt their old framework on sports betting. This will hopefully allow sport betting without compromising any integrity of the game at hand.

I think commissioner Silver is absolutely right with his thinking, and with the push to make gambling and sport less of an ‘underground’ practice. It will definitely take someone in the power position that is forward thinking and able to provide a clear vision to make this happen. Silver fits in perfectly with both of those criteria.

I am glad he is the new commissioner of the NBA because he seems to be a leader who gets it. By ‘it’ I mean, he knows he has the power to progress things and make actual change, while also knowing that he needs to be willing to adapt to each situation. If you happen to be a fan of NBA basketball then I think you should feel good about what commissioner is in place for the foreseeable future.

More commissioners I think should look to him (even though he is relatively new in his role) for how to conduct themselves. While in a position of power it is fine to have a personality and speak your mind in an eloquent manner. It will be interesting to see where this goes and if the plan by Silver gains more movement.

Challenge and innovate past the status quo…that seems like the mindset for Adam Silver.

Below is an interview between Adam Silver and Outside the Lines reporter Andy Katz on various NBA topics and issues. If you want to get to the specific talking point of sport betting you can skip to three minutes in the video.

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About Kaleb Page

Kaleb is a Senior, sport management major with a minor in journalism at Bowling Green State University. Including his involvement in the Maxwell Project, Kaleb is also an active member of the Sport Management Alliance and the Bowling Green Radio Sports Organization. He enjoys watching all types of sports competition from the traditional forms of basketball and football to the emerging areas like mixed martial arts. His favorite teams are the Pittsburgh Steelers, Tottenham Hotspur FC, Cincinnati Reds, Ohio State Buckeyes (football &basketball) and Columbus Crew SC.

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