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Former NBA Commissioner Advocates For Sports Betting

David Stern, AGA Explain Necessity Of Change To Federal Law


On Thursday at the American Gaming Association’s annual Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern addressed the future of sports betting and its impact on major professional sports.

It was a historic moment for the casino industry, as the AGA has been pushing for federal sports betting reform. The NBA, more than any other major professional sports league in America, has been an advocate for revisiting the law of the land.

Like the AGA, the NBA prefers federal reform rather than a patchwork of states attempting to legalize the activity. Federal law should allow states to opt in or opt out, they say.

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 limited sports betting to just a few states, with Nevada being the only one to offer single-game betting thanks to the grandfather clause. Delaware casinos allow parlays. In recent years, New Jersey has vigorously challenged PASPA in the courts, but it has been unsuccessful. Pennsylvania has also shown interest in putting sports books in its casinos, but most likely every state in the country with casino gambling would take a look at regulated sports betting if the federal government allowed it.

The AGA says that the value of the American sports betting market is $150 billion a year, with less than $5 billion of that wagered legally in Nevada. Silver State casinos retain about $250 million of those wagers.

Half of the wagers come via mobile devices, according to Joe Asher, CEO, William Hill U.S.

Dan Singer, Head of Global Sports Practice at New York-based McKinsey & Company, estimates that legalized sports betting is a $6 billion opportunity for American sports leagues, thanks to the fact that about a quarter of the population bets on sports in some way. The AGA said that there were 70 million March Madness brackets filled out this year.

Some other facts to consider when gauging the prospects of reform to federal law: NFL teams have sponsorship deals with the lotto and also are investors in daily fantasy sports, a form of online gambling that 91 percent of Americans have access to.

Unlike the NBA, the National Football League is not a supporter of federal sports betting reform, but it has slowly been warming to gambling. The NFL is open to the idea of the Raiders moving to Las Vegas. Of the $150 billion in sports bets made each year, more than half are on the NFL, according to the AGA.