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Ex NBA commissioner hopes to see legalised betting expand in U.S.

Mon, Oct 3, 9:45am by Jake Equid

We take sports betting for granted in Australia, it’s incredibly easy to access and advertising is everywhere. It’s a different story in the United States though. Will we see that change?

Former NBA commissioner David Stern has changed his tune regarding legal sports betting in the United States. A long-time opponent of sports betting legalisation, Stern said on Thursday that his position has evolved to a point where he now hopes to see legal sports betting expand in the United States.

Stern made the surprise claims when speaking to a crowd at the American Gaming Association’s Global Gaming Expo on Thursday in Las Vegas, said the notion that gambling will lead to bad things is “outdated.”

“Let’s not talk about the ‘evils’ of gambling when it comes to sports,” Stern said. “The industry has come to accept that a properly run gaming association will be protective of sports.”

Americans are having little trouble finding ways to bet on sports in the U.S. It is estimated that around $90 billion will be bet on football this season, almost all of it illegally. In comparison, only $1.69 billion was bet on football in 2015 at Nevada’s regulated sportsbooks.

Stern’s support for the legalisation of sports betting represents a dramatic shift by the New Yorker, who had to guide the NBA through a gambling scandal of its own. In 2007, referee Tim Donaghy was found to have supplied information to gamblers while also betting on games he officiated.

The NBA studied betting line movement and Donaghy’s call structure closely, but nearly 10 years later, he still isn’t sure if a larger regulated sports betting market in the U.S. would have produced warning signs of the referee’s betting activity with an FBI wiretap for an unrelated case ultimately identified the scheme.

Mr Stern said that the popularity of daily fantasy sports has helped alleviate some of his concerns about fans having a stake in player performance or game outcomes. “to me, if they’re going to be doing daily fantasy, you might as well legalise gambling.”

The process of getting sports betting legalised could take as long as a decade, according to Stern but he said that he hopes it will be sooner.

He believes the best way to get things moving would be to join forces, including more sports leagues. The NFL, NHL and Major League Baseball while showing signs of a softening stance on sports betting but have not given full support as yet.


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