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NBA, NHL and MLB readying for betting law change

Thu, Jul 20, 3:23pm by Staff Writer

There is a sense of inevitability about sports betting being legalised in the United States with the heads of three of the four major sports readying themselves for a change in the betting landscape in the near future.

Currently betting on sports is allowed in just a handful of the states with the federal PASPA law preventing betting on professional sports in the other states.

But that law is being challenged in the Supreme Court by the state of New Jersey is a case which could prove a watershed moment for the betting industry in the US.

The heads of the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL met this week in New York, where three of them answered questions on their thoughts about sports betting.

NBA chief Adam Silver has been a long-time supporter for a liberalised approach to sports gambling and in a now famous op-ed piece in the New York Times in 2014 called for federal lawmakers to change the antiquated PASPA law.

Asked about the current situation by ESPN, Silver said that he felt change was in the wind, but must include live in-play betting, something which has been formally banned in Australia.

“My sense is the law will change in the next few years in the United States,” Silver said. “People want to bet throughout the game … It results in enormous additional engagement with the fans.”

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has also been seen as progressive on the issue.

He said last week, the MLB wanted to be involved in the shaping of any modified legislation.

“If there’s going to be a change in the regulatory structure with respects to sports gambling, we needed to be in a position to meaningfully engage and shape, try to shape what the new regulatory scheme looks like,” Manfred told reporters last week.

When pressed on the specifics this week, Manfred indicated he still has some concerns about spot betting.

“There’s a difference between someone betting on whether the next ball is a strike or betting on the outcome of a game,” he said,

Gary Bettman, the head of the NHL, said he does not hold a concern about match fixing in ice hockey and feels the law is ready for a change.

“We’re a small part of betting compared to football and basketball,” Bettman said. “… I don’t worry about fixing games.”

The NHL will become the first of the four codes to feature a team from America’s gambling capital Las Vegas when the Golden Knights join the league this year.

The NFL are also set to target the Vegas market when the Oakland Raiders relocate to Nevada in 2020.

But they are by far the most conservative of all four of the major sports when it comes to sports betting liberalisation.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wouldn’t be drawn on where the league stood on PASPA and the possible challenge.

But that may mean very little if PASPA is overturned when the Supreme Court hears the New Jersey case in the next 12 months.

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