NBA Commish Asks Christie to Partner on Legalized Betting

Adam Silver: "If it's going to go on, let's make it transparent."

NBA commissioner Adam Silver watches the game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center. Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

NBA commissioner Adam Silver watches the game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports

New Jersey has been battling major sports leagues over its right to allow sports betting, but Monday brought a twist to the matter: NBA commissioner Adam Silver publicly asked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to partner up to make sports betting legal in much of the United States.

ABC News reports:

During an interview on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that also aired on the ESPN/ABC podcast “Capital Games,” Silver said that rather than fight New Jersey and other states, his league can work with them to establish a uniform federal structure that would acknowledge that sports gambling already takes place in many venues that are far from Las Vegas sports books.

“Governor Christie, and I’m happy to join him, should turn his attention to Washington, DC, to Congress, and say, ‘Here are all the reasons it should be regulated, but let’s come up with a framework that makes sense on a national basis presumably that would allow states to opt in,’ ” Silver told ESPN’s Andy Katz. adds:

Although a permanent injunction from a federal judge currently prevents New Jersey casinos and racetracks from offering betting on NBA and other professional contests, during an interview on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” Silver acknowledged it was occurring anyway, and called for federally regulated betting practices.

As part of an effort to allow wagering on professional and NCAA sports, New Jersey repealed its own law banning sports betting in October. However, a judge ruled that the move to allow sports betting nonetheless still violated the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 because New Jersey already heavily regulates casinos and tracks and couldn’t have it both ways. New Jersey has since filed a challenge to appeal the decision in the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Silver doesn’t want sports betting to arrive ad hoc on a state-by-state basis — instead favoring a federal rule that states could opt into or out of. “If it’s going to go on, let’s make it transparent, let’s bring it into the sunlight, so to speak, and let’s regulate it, the same way we do a lot of other industries,” he told ESPN.