Adam Silver senses sports betting could be legalized in the near future. USATSI

The idea of legalizing sports betting has been floated for years with no imminent change in sight, but NBA commissioner Adam Silver remains optimistic of a change that would make betting legal in the not-so-distant future.

According to John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal, Silver says he senses that it could happen "in the next few years" in the United States.

"People want to bet throughout the game," Silver added. "It results in enormous additional engagement with the fans."

Although this may sound like groundbreaking news in terms of a push to legalize sports betting, Silver has long been an advocate of doing so. He famously authored a New York Times story that discussed an approach to legalizing sports betting in the U.S. that was published one day before the NBA came to terms on an equity deal with daily fantasy operator FanDuel.

"There is an obvious appetite among sports fans for a safe and legal way to wager on professional sporting events," Silver wrote in The Times article in 2014. "Mainstream media outlets regularly publish sports betting lines and point spreads. Voters in New Jersey overwhelmingly voiced their support for legal sports betting in a 2011 referendum."

Silver also pointed to both domestic and global trends in sports gambling as further proof that laws that made it illegal should be changed, calling for Congress to "adopt a federal framework that allows states to authorize betting on professional sports, subject to strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards."