Sports betting will be broadly legalized in the US in approximately four years and one of its highest profile proponents, the National Basketball Association, will continue to call for a regulatory framework for wagering, American Gaming Association president and CEO Geoff Freeman said Wednesday. Those calls, however, will likely continue to stop short of direct legislative lobbying.
NBA spokesman Michael Bass told Gambling Compliance that while his league maintained its position in favor of a law regulating sports betting, it was not going to become more aggressive in directly advocating for such a law.
Freeman told those assembled that he met personally last month in New York with NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who he referred to as a “partner” in the effort to establish a legal sports betting framework in the US. Bass characterized the meeting as “informational only.” His remarks followed Freeman’s, which came at a gaming event in Mississippi.
The comments indicate sports betting proponents might need to lean on someone other than their most high-profile champion to spearhead the literal action of amending or repealing the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, the 1992 federal framework outlawing all forms of sports betting in all but four states. They also create a delicate distinction between the NBA speaking publicly about the need for updated federal legislation and not advocating for it with federal lawmakers.
It’s unclear exactly how the NBA would support whichever legislator, independent group or other actor that chose to take up the sports betting mantle in Washington, D.C. In late 2015, Silver told FiveThirtyEight that legal sports betting made sense from a financial perspective.
“One of the reasons I’ve been pushing to legalize sports betting is not because that I’m necessarily an advocate of sports betting, it’s because all the research shows that it’s a multi-hundred-billion dollar business just in the United States right now,” Silver said.
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