The NBA issued a lengthy statement in response to a recent ESPN report digging back into the decade-old scandal involving former referee Tim Donaghy. And it used it as a platform to address legal sports wagering.
The NBA on sports betting today
While refuting some of what ESPN reported about Donaghy and the allegations that he manipulated games for betting purposes, the NBA still said it still stands as a lesson for the rapidly expanding US sports betting industry.
We recognize there is strong interest in the subject of expanded sports betting and the measures sports organizations should undertake to protect integrity. However, the ESPN Article does not add anything material to the record of what happened over a decade ago.
Here’s the conclusion of the statement:
The Donaghy matter also underscores the need for sports leagues to have greater access to betting data from sports books to monitor gambling on their games. We will continue our ongoing efforts to obtain this information to further expand our integrity efforts and best protect our sport in an age of legalized sports gambling.
The NBA and Donaghy
We won’t relitigate the case, ESPN’s reporting, or the NBA’s statement. That’s for the league, the ESPN and anyone else who wishes to do it.
But suffice it to say the Donaghy case remains the most recent and high-profile case of alleged manipulation of games for betting purposes in the US. And the NBA is obviously sensitive to it being brought up again — in detail — years after it happened.
Turning today, the NBA is certainly right that cooperation between legal sportsbooks and the leagues would benefit everyone. The growth of a regulated market should also help with its goal of something like the Donaghy case repeating.
The question is how the cooperation needs to go down. The NBA and other leagues are often asking for state laws to codify the relationship, alongside a royalty or “integrity fee” paid by sportsbook operators to the leagues directly.
In the end, it should be in the best interests of everyone to collaborate on sports betting and integrity issues. There have been numerous private deals between leagues and casinos and sportsbook operators since the fall of the federal sports betting ban, the first between the NBA and MGM Resorts.
In any event, yes, the NBA is right. We should be moving toward a world where US operators and leagues have a free flow of information about betting. The “how” and “how much” access to data is the question.