NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been outspoken on the topic of sports gambling -- back in November, he wrote an op-ed in the New York Times where he argued that betting "should be brought out of the underground." On Monday, as a guest on the Boomer & Carton show, he was asked about talking to commissioners of other professional sports leagues about the matter.
"I did speak to all the other commissioners," Silver said. "There was a range of reactions. Some were, ‘What are you doing?’ Others were, ‘Let’s study it, seems like an interesting idea.’ And that is not that we’re necessarily out there promoting sports betting, but the latest estimate is there’s somewhere between $300 and $400 billion a year being bet on sports in this country."
Silver knows that sports betting is going to happen regardless of what the league does, so it doesn't make sense to have a hard-line stance on it anymore. He said he wants to be able to protect the league's integrity and monitor the gambling, adding that he studied European soccer and basketball, where betting is widespread and legal.
"Because they have all that data, they’re able to monitor it," Silver said. "And if there’s any irregular activity whatsoever, it’s like tracking insider trading on the New York Stock Exchange. If there’s a blip, if there’s unusual activity, they know to investigate. So first the issue for us is if all this betting is going to go on anyway, we should be able to monitor it. And then, No. 2, if all this betting activity is going to go on anyway, make it legal.
"It’s good for business, I don’t want to hide from that," he continued. "Putting aside whether or not we’re actually actively involved in any of the betting, it creates more engagement. We all know as fans if you have, even like a gentleman’s bet or a $5 bet with your friend on a game, all of a sudden you’re a lot more interested."
While this isn't all that different from things Silver has said before, it's notable that he's sticking to his guns and looking forward logically. It's a clear shift from the David Stern era, and this is sure to become a major issue over the next few years. Silver mentioned that, at soccer stadiums in Europe, you now see fans making bets on their smartphones and tablets rather than going to betting windows. The question is how long it'll be before that happens in NBA arenas.