NBA commissioner Adam Silver made headlines when he publicly asked for sports-betting regulations in an editorial the New York Times published in November of last year. Silver emphasized that he was not a gambling proponent, but rather a gambling realist, asking for legalization in order to increase the transparency of currently largely illegal online betting activities. This rather bold statement came after the NBA’s legal department had monitored the development in the sports betting scene behind closed doors for close to a decade. Now, almost one year after Silver assumed his position as commissioner, ESPN dedicated a lengthy article in its online magazine to shed more light on his position and the role the NBA and other major leagues play in the legalization of sports betting. —
Prior to publicly voicing his opinion, Stern had gathered extensive information about the current legal situation in states all over the country and possible options on how to monitor and regulate betting activities. He even had two NBA attorneys attend the mock sports betting trial organized by Jeff Ifrah and his legal team at Ifrah Law, which was presented as part of the iGaming North America Conference in March 2014. The trial examined the Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA), the Wire Act, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, and the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA).
During a recent interview in New York, Stern reiterated his stance on the matter: “The best way for the league to monitor our integrity is for that betting action to move toward legal betting organizations, where it can be tracked. That's the pragmatic approach.” Founding Partner of Ifrah Law and a renowned expert in the iGaming industry, Jeff Ifrah, who has been following the discussions revolving around the legalization of sports betting for years, agrees that the creation of a good regulatory framework that allows for bets being carried out in the open would be beneficial for everyone. “Illegal sports betting occurs every day, but with regulations come licensed operators who are accountable to customers, players rights and protections, secure transactions, and oversight - not to mention the reduction of the most dangerous external costs of illegal gambling, such as violent crime and other illicit activities,” Ifrah reasons.
ESPN reporter, David Purdum, suggests that the NBA is by no means the only institution paying attention to the question of sports betting. Other leagues, including the NFL, the International Olympic Committee, and the NCAA are discussing best practices, and an increasing number of state governments, spearheaded by New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, are pushing for its legalizations. While Silver is striving for uniform federal laws, Ifrah suggests beginning the regulatory process with state-by-state regulations that take in to account public opinion and the prevailing desire for consumption for such activities for each respective state. “A strong push towards a federal sports betting bill may spur a backlash of those who feel that states’ rights on the issue are being attacked,” claims Ifrah. “It may be better to facilitate interstate agreements for those states who are ready to legalize sports betting while preserving their autonomy in how they regulate.” To date, sports bets can be legally placed only in Las Vegas, Nevada, but other states, including New Jersey, New York, Indiana, and South Carolina have introduced respective bills. However different the opinions in different states may be, Ifrah points out, “It is safe to say that all states have an interest in preventing crime and protecting its residents.”
Ifrah Law has been invited to present another mock sports betting trial at this year’s iGaming North America Conference at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, and the trial will take place on April 15, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. For more details on attending the mock trial and the iGNA Conference, please visit http://www.igamingnorthamerica.com/.
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