Houston Rockets Owner: ‘Why Shouldn’t The States Make The Money’ On Sports Betting?

States money sports betting
Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta was bullish on the future of sports betting in the US in an interview today.

But the man who also owns Golden Nugget Casinos seemingly diverged from the preferred talking points of the NBA when it comes to the future of legal and regulated sports wagering.

Rockets owner on sports gambling

Fertitta — who bought the Rockets for $2.2 billion this year — spoke with ESPN’s Outside The Lines. When asked by host Bob Ley about the future of sports wagering in the US, here’s what he had to say:

“People just love to do it, so why shouldn’t the states make the money, why shouldn’t it be legalized? And I think everybody’s softening a little bit [on sports betting].”

Fertitta’s comments come as the US Supreme Court is deciding the New Jersey sports betting case. That case is about NJ trying to legalize sports wagering within its borders.

The NCAA and major pro sports leagues — the NBA included — have tried to stop New Jersey from repealing its own sports betting prohibition, using a federal law, PASPA. That’s the federal law that bans single-game wagering outside of Nevada. A decision declaring PASPA unconstitutional has the potential to open up sports wagering beyond New Jersey and Nevada.

Parsing what Fertitta said

That Fertitta would be bullish on sports betting shouldn’t be a shock.

He already owns casinos in Nevada where legal sports betting takes place. And Golden Nugget has properties in New Jersey, Mississippi and Louisiana, which are all potential targets for sports betting laws.

The somewhat surprising part is that Fertitta diverged from NBA talking points. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and general counsel for the league have espoused a “federal framework” for sports betting in the US. That’s despite the fact that a state-by-state regulatory model seems far more likely to happen.

The NBA, a federal framework and states

We’ve not seen exactly how Silver and the NBA envision a federal framework would work.

But it’s not clear how or if states might figure into a revenue picture in this model. Clearly, if the federal government gets involved, some money would funnel away from states. And states wouldn’t have as much — or any — control over what they get in terms of revenue

What we have heard from the NBA of late:

Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.