[toc]The NBA appears to be ready to lobby Congress to legalize and regulate sports betting in the US, a shift in the pro basketball league’s public stance from just a year ago.
Congress, the NBA and sports betting
The NBA publicly talked about its intent to lobby Congress for the “federal framework” it has long espoused at the Sports Betting USA conference that is taking place in New York City this week.
Here’s a synopsis of what NBA Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel Dan Spillane said:
“We have advisors in DC & legislation we’re pulling together with our commissioner who jump started the conversation – members of Congress will be more receptive after the @scotus decision” @NBA #SBUSA17 @DustinGouker @WALLACHLEGAL pic.twitter.com/3fz70QSLzK
— Genius Sports (@GeniusSports) November 14, 2017
That’s a big change in policy from just a year ago, when the NBA said it supported federal regulation of sports betting but would not directly advocate for it. Earlier this year, Spillane said there was “forward motion” for legal sports betting in the US.
The revelation came almost three years to the day that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver first called for federal sports betting regulation.
Legal Sports Report has reached out to the NBA and the American Gaming Association, which is leading its own lobbying effort, for further comment.
The NBA’s involvement signals things are changing quickly
The NBA’s publicly stated advocacy efforts reflect the rapidly changing landscape for sports betting in the US.
The New Jersey sports betting case comes to the US Supreme Court in just a few weeks. The NBA, of course, is one of several plaintiffs in the case that turns on the constitutionality of the federal ban on sports wagering, PASPA.
The NBA has argued in the past that its support of federal regulation and its opposition to New Jersey’s attempt to legalize it are not incongruous. NJ is attempting to offer what amounts to unregulated sports gambling, in crafting its law to get around the federal ban. The NBA is all for sports betting, as long as it is regulated via a federal law.
The case leaves the possibility of PASPA being struck down — either in whole or in part — which could quickly ramp up interest in amending, repealing or replacing PASPA. Congressman Frank Pallone reiterated his desire to hold hearings on the subject to consider his sports betting legislation just last week.
Sports data company Sportradar is holding an event on Capitol Hill today about the prospects of sports betting in the US.
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