In keeping with his assertion last September that legal sports betting in the U.S. is “inevitable,” former NBA Commissioner David Stern plans to speak at a gambling conference in Las Vegas next week in a show of support for the expansion of the fast-growing American pastime.
Stern, who retired in 2014, has not always been an advocate of legalized sports betting. In 1991 he was among a group of powerful men who joined forces to petition a Senate subcommittee to stop the spread of the practice. Those efforts resulted in the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (pdf), also known as the “Bradley Act,” being enacted by the 102nd United States Congress on October 28, 1992.
Sterns support isn’t new, however, last year he told a forum in Manhattan that it is time to legalize sports betting in the United States; an opinion shared by his successor, Adam Silver. In Late 2014, Silver called on Congress to create a framework for states to work within to regulate legal betting on professional sports. Stern now says that daily fantasy wagering has laid the groundwork for legal sports betting throughout the U.S. and that the NBA should go “all in,” according to SFGate. In a recent phone interview with the news agency Stern said, “It seems to be an inexorable march, and it’s time to come up with a strategy that gets the various stakeholders together and see what changes, if any, make sense.” Stern added that when daily fantasy “became a place where people could bet money and make a financial return, I thought that was one of the last barriers to the opposition to legalized gambling on sports.”
Including Silver, some estimate that illegal sports betting in the U.S. could reach as much as $400 billion a year. Others estimate the number to be much lower but still in the $100 billion range, with Super Bowl XLIX alone accounting for nearly $3.8 billion in illegal bets, some 38 times more than are placed legally, according to an estimate released in January 2015 by the American Gaming Association (AGA), which promotes the legalization of responsible gambling.
Stern will appear at the Global Gaming Expo next Thursday, Sept. 29, in conversation with Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA, to discuss how sports betting should be managed here in the United States. In the news release last year, Freeman said, “Current law banning sports betting is clearly failing,” and that, “The AGA is closely examining the current state of sports betting, the laws that govern it and the best way forward for the gaming industry.”