Adam Silver

If and when sports gambling becomes legal, NBA commissioner Adam Silver is not going to fight it. While some other commissioners are wary of potentially tricky situations that may arise with betting, Silver has been championing legalization for years.

Now Silver has said he expects sports gambling to become legal “in the next few years.”

The NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB players unions have already begun preparations for legalized sports betting, and after hearing a quote like that from a commissioner you can understand why. There are billions of dollars in gambling, so you can’t fault Silver for wanting to get his share of that cash.

Here’s more from Sports Business Daily’s John Ourand:

“Adam Silver said the NBA will embrace gambling if it is legalized, while the NHL’s Gary Bettman and MLB’s Rob Manfred took more of a “go slow” approach. NFL commish Roger Goodell did not offer comments on the issue. Silver said, “My sense is that the law will change in the next few years in the United States. It’s more a function of being realists. It’s a multi-hundred billion-dollar illegal industry in the United States. Ultimately, as the owners of the intellectual property, we’re going to embrace it.”

Executives of America’s major sports leagues have many concerns about legal gambling. Throwing games is the obvious one. Contaminating the game environment and fan experience is another. Silver’s taking the opposite stance, saying that allowing gambling can actually create even more fan engagement.

Here’s what Silver told Sports Business Daily:

“Research generally shows that fans are fairly sophisticated. They can both root for their team and virtually all the action. … They want to bet throughout the game. They’re betting on quarter scores, on particular players, and free throws. It results in enormous additional engagement.”

A few weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review New Jersey’s argument for legalized sports betting. If they reverse the decision, we could see states begin legalization across the United States.

[Sports Business Daily]

About Jesse Kramer

Jesse is a writer and editor for The Comeback. He has also worked for SI.com and runs The Catch and Shoot, a college basketball website based in Chicago. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Follow Jesse on Twitter @Jesse_Kramer.