NBA is lobbying for regulation that pays league for its intellectual property
Legal Sports Report

NBA’s Silver: ‘Regulated Betting Can Lead To A Dramatic Increase In Engagement’

NBA sports betting engagement

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a recent interview that “legalized sports betting in the US could lead to a dramatic increase in engagement” for his sport.

The comments come as lobbyists for his league on sports betting legislation have at times said that legalized wagering would not result in much added revenue and would increase costs in terms of integrity monitoring as it relates to wagering.

What Silver said on sports betting

Silver’s most recent comments are not terribly earth-shattering, as he’s said variations of much of it before.

This time he included a desire to be paid for the NBA’s “intellectual property” when it’s used for sports betting. Here’s an excerpt of the interview from Strategy+Business:

And the intellectual property creators like the NBA, which invest billions of dollars per year creating their product [$7.5 billion in 2018 alone], should share in the proceeds. Legalized sports betting creates an opportunity to be compensated directly by selling our video and data.

Just as important, as we see from international jurisdictions and from what we know already goes on in the United States, regulated betting can lead to a dramatic increase in engagement.

Read the whole interview here.

So, if we read “engagement” as an “opportunity to make more money” — which it surely does — then the NBA stands to benefit directly. The NBA wants to get fans to watch longer during games and not turn away from games, things that will clearly impact the bottom line.

More (regulated/legal) betting on the NBA dovetails with those goals. And that’s not to mention the increased advertising and sponsorship potential for the league.

Silver hits on all the league talking points

The NBA has been lobbying alongside Major League Baseball for regulation of sports betting in the US, should the federal ban be struck down in the US Supreme Court sports betting case.

What they’ve been asking for lines up with Silver’s talking points in this most recent interview:

  • A rights and integrity fee that pays the league for its IP and integrity monitoring costs.
  • The ability to control and monetize data streams as it relates to wagering.
  • Legalization of in-play/mobile betting.

Still harping on ‘pay us for the games we put on’

The idea that the NBA pays money to put on games, and that it should be compensated as such for sports betting, is hardly a new talking point either.

Does the NBA deserve to get paid it for its intellectual property? That’s at least a fair point that reasonable people can argue for, despite the fact that the NBA and MLB have lost court cases on this when it comes to fantasy sports. But the NBA doesn’t put the games on for charity. Separating the idea that the NBA spends money to put on games from the concept that it makes a lot of money by spending all that money is slightly bizarre.

Regardless, let’s hope league lobbyists listen to Silver and stop arguing that the NBA isn’t going to directly benefit from an expansion of legal sports wagering in the US.

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.