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NBA calls for sports-betting laws

The NBA would demand one per cent of every wager placed on its games if sports betting is legalised in the US, according to Dan Spillane, an attorney for the basketball league.

Spillane, testifying yesterday (Wednesday) in front of a New York State Senate committee, asked for a formal set of laws to be drawn up regarding gambling on sport in the country.

“We have studied these issues at length,” Spillane told the lawmakers. “Our conclusion is that the time has come for a different approach that gives sports fans a safe and legal way to wager on sporting events while protecting the integrity of the underlying competitions.”

Spillane called for betting to be legalised on smartphones and at kiosks and not just inside casinos and racetracks, ESPN reported. The league would also want a “rigorous licensing programme” to be in place for prospective operators, he added.

“States like New York and others have reacted by moving forward to discuss and advance new laws that could immediately thereafter permit legal sports betting,” Spillane added. “We cannot sit on the sidelines while this activity is occurring.”

Several US states are preparing legislation if the Supreme Court overrules a federal ban on sports betting outside Nevada. A decision on the court’s case, focusing on New Jersey, is expected in the spring.

ESPN added that the NBA has indicated it wants to Congress ultimately to pass a national bill, regardless of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

The American Gaming Association responded to the development by saying that although it is pleased that the NBA would support “vigorously regulated sports wagering”, the government’s role “most certainly does not include transferring money from bettors to multi-billion-dollar sports leagues”.

NBA spokesman Michael Bass responded by saying: “Sports leagues provide the foundation for sports betting while bearing the risks it imposes, even when regulated. If sports betting is legalised federally or state by state, we will need to invest more in compliance and enforcement, and believe it is reasonable for operators to pay each league one per cent of the total amount bet on its games to help compensate for the risk and expense created and the commercial value our product provides them. This is a similar approach to legally-regulated sports betting in other international jurisdictions.”

ESPN reported last week that the NBA and Major League Baseball consulted with Indiana lawmakers to insert a one-per-cent “integrity fee” into a sports gambling bill.

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