NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Monday that he believes all leagues must continue to keep a very close eye on gambling trends in their sports given the problems the NFL in particular has had to grapple with in recent months.
Silver – who has long been a proponent of legalized frameworks for esports betting – was speaking in Las Vegas during a moderated discussion at the Associated Press Sports Editors convention. He said he draws the analogy to insider trading and how he thinks leagues find ways to stay ahead of big problems.
“I think the public markets have worked very well in this country,” Silver said. “But the downside of a public market is the potential for insider trading. And there are very sophisticated algorithms etc. that track that. It’s not much different in esports now, especially when you’re getting higher betting volumes. They have very sophisticated.” Computers; if they see mismatched bets… you’ll get caught.
The NFL recently suspended four players for violating their gambling guidelines; three received at least one-year bans from wagering on NFL games and one received a six-game ban from wagering on non-NFL games. That brings the total to 10 players who have been disciplined over the past two years as the league vowed to increase training efforts across the board to protect the integrity of the game.
“I think these leagues have a responsibility to invest in more education, not just for our own players, but also for young people who may be doing something inappropriate, or anyone who may be engaged in problem gambling,” Silver said.
On other topics Silver discussed on Monday:
As he did during the NBA Finals, Silver discussed how the league’s ownership landscape will change once Michael Jordan — the league’s only black majority owner — completes the sale of his majority stake in the Charlotte Hornets.
“It makes me so sad to see him go because he chose to go as an owner but of course he has the right to sell to anyone he wants,” Silver said. “And in terms of black representation, I will say we won’t have a major owner who is black, but we do have several, particularly former players, Dwyane Wade is the youngest in Utah, Grant Hill, and a few others who be interested in a team.” .”
Silver said he can use his “bully pulpit” to ensure ownership groups entering the league have diversity within their group.
With the conclusion of a new collective bargaining agreement, the league will turn its attention to finalizing the next set of media rights deals.
And when that’s done, the NBA will seriously consider expanding — but not before, Silver said.
“Once these media deals are in place, we will move on to expansion,” Silver said. “It’s not a sure thing. But like I said before, I think it’s normal for companies to grow over time. There is no doubt that there is tremendous interest in this (Las Vegas) market.”
Seattle has also long been mentioned as an expansion target. Plenty of players have lobbied for Seattle’s return to the NBA, and many – including LeBron James – have said they strongly support the idea of Las Vegas getting a franchise.
PROPERTY IN QATAR
It was announced last month that Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund was buying a roughly 5% stake in the parent company of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the WNBA’s Washington Mystics in a $4.05 billion deal.
But there is no mechanism currently — and there will be no for the foreseeable future — that would allow such funds to acquire controlling interest in an NBA team, Silver said.
“Sovereignty funds aside, it’s very important to us that individuals are able to control our teams, take accountability to the fans, their partners and the players,” Silver said.
Silver stuck by the 25-game ban he imposed on Memphis guard Ja Morant for his second incident of displaying a gun on social media, though the National Basketball Players Association has said it thinks the sanction is too harsh .
As he said at the NBA Finals, Silver made it clear that he supports Morant.
“As far as I know, he’s still seeking help,” Silver said. “And I know there’s tremendous pressure to be an NBA player, especially a superstar player. So I certainly understand the pressure he’s facing, but I also feel it, especially around guns and the kind of violence we see among young people in our society, that we take that incredibly seriously must.”
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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