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Poker News | World Poker News

NBA May Reconsider Legalized Sports Betting Stance

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One of the biggest obstacles in passing pro-internet gaming legislation has always been sports leagues that staunchly oppose any bill that might open the door to legalized sports betting. And when Rep. Barney Frank introduced the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection & Enforcement Act of 2009, organizations like the NFL, NCAA, NHL, and NBA made clear their opposition by upping the ante on lobbying efforts and political action committees donations. But as Frank pushes his bill forward, the NBA has noted its intentions to ease its stance on the issue of legalized sports betting.

At one point, it seemed that Frank may revamp his H.R. 2267 to include a carve-out for sports betting in order to ensure that the lobbying efforts on behalf of the sports leagues would yield their efforts, ones that were successful in 2006 in aiding the passage of the UIGEA. However, Frank has yet to make that move and conversely seems to be pushing ahead with language in the legislation that would open the door for sports betting.

Interestingly, the NBA (National Basketball Association) seems to have reversed its stance on the issue and pulled away from others like the NFL (National Football League). In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated’s Ian Thomsen, NBA Commissioner David Stern conceded that the legalization of sports betting is inevitable and that it will not only be regulated by U.S. government safeguards but will also create more fan interest and subsequent money to the sports leagues.

When Stern was asked if the NBA will “seek legalization of sports betting”, he responded, “It has been a matter of league policy to answer that question, ‘No,’ but I think that that league policy was formulated at a time when gambling was far less widespread -- even legally… So we have morphed considerably in our corporate view where we say, Look, Las Vegas is not evil. Las Vegas is a vacation and destination resort, and they have sports gambling and, in fact, there’s a federal statute that gives them a monopoly of types [on sports betting]. And we actually supported that statute back in ’92.”

And when asked directly if fans should be able to bet on NBA games outside the sportsbooks of Las Vegas, Stern said, “OK, but then you’re arguing there may be good and sufficient business reasons to do that. And I’m going to leave the slate clean for my successor. But it’s fair enough that we have moved to a point where that leap is a possibility, although that’s not our current position.”

Stern ended the topic by saying, “Gambling, however it may have moved closer to the line [of becoming acceptable], is still viewed on the threat side. Although we understand fully why, buried within that threat there may be a huge opportunity as well.”

Whether other leagues like the NFL or NCAA will begin to open their options as well remains to be seen, but the NBA seems to looking at the issue with fresh eyes. But whether that amenable stance will translate into support of pro-gaming legislation, or at least the retreat of lobbying forces against such legislation, remains to be seen.

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