NBA Commissioner Hints At Potential Sports-Betting Rule Changes

April 11, 2024
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National Basketball Association (NBA) commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday that the league and its partners may have to revisit their rules governing sports betting amid increased scrutiny and more reported incidents of player harassment.
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National Basketball Association (NBA) commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday (April 10) that the league and its partners may have to revisit their rules governing sports betting amid increased scrutiny and more reported incidents of player harassment.

Silver was asked during a press conference about the league’s relationship with sports betting and said the league still supports a regulated sports-betting industry, although he added that he preferred a federal framework to the current state-by-state regulatory model.

However, Silver also said that he believed there was a role for increased regulation regarding the amount of marketing of sports betting and the types of bets that can be placed on games.

“We’re learning a lot about this industry, the impact of marketing on fans, on activity in our arenas,” Silver said. "We’ve heard those stories of players and coaches, not that it’s anything new, but anecdotally at least, it’s increasing in terms of fans yelling out at players about over-unders and yelling at coaches about pulling players, and fans disappointed about spreads not being covered.

“I think we all have to address that as an industry and decide where the proper lines are, and I think there is a role for the government here in terms of proper regulation, even around the amount of marketing.”

He added that the NBA continues to limit the amount of sports-betting advertising during its game broadcasts.

“Whether that’s at the right line, others may have a different opinion, but we limit it,” he said. “But that’s just a fraction of the sports-betting advertising we see. I live in the New York market; it’s constant in terms of promotions for people to bet on sports.”

“I think as these unfortunate examples come along, we may have to adjust our rules, and our partner gaming companies … may have to adjust their behavior as well.”

Silver’s comments on potentially limiting bet types come as the league investigates Toronto Raptors player Jontay Porter after suspicious betting patterns on player props were identified. Porter left two games after only a few minutes with reported injuries, and in both games, sportsbooks reported an increase in unders bets on Porter’s player proposition bets.

Porter has not played since March 22, and Silver said that an investigation of Porter remains ongoing. 

“I have an enormous range of discipline available to me, but it’s cardinal sin, what he’s accused of, in the NBA and the ultimate extreme option I have is to ban him from the game,” Silver said. “There’s nothing more serious around this league when it comes to gambling and betting on our games and that is a direct player involvement. 

“And so the investigation is ongoing, but the consequences could be very severe.”

If a lifetime ban is issued, it would be the first gambling-related lifetime ban by a major American league since Major League Baseball’s (MLB) infamous ban of all-time hits leader Pete Rose in 1989. 

That ban has continued to this day despite numerous applications for reinstatement from Rose and has prevented Rose from gaining access to the MLB Hall of Fame.

Silver also pushed back on the idea that the league’s cozier relationship with sports betting made this type of potential match manipulation an inevitability and that the league should not be surprised by such events.

“I’m always surprised in the individual circumstance,” he said. “If you look at the history of sports betting, prior to the mass legalization of it in the United States, there have been incidents, we’ve had incidents obviously with an official, this is not new that there’s unsavory behavior, even illegal behavior around sports betting.

“I guess my point is that to the extent it’s going to exist, if you have a regulated environment, you’re going to have a better chance of detecting it than you would if all the bets were placed illegally.”

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