NBA still hopeful of federally-regulated betting system in USA

NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer Mark Tatum has said the NBA is still hopeful that the United States can arrive at a federally-regulated sports betting model.

Speaking exclusively to SportBusiness at the Fiba World Basketball Summit, Tatum said such a model would be easier to manage and make it simpler maintain the integrity of the league than the current patchwork of state-by-state regulations.

“There’s been some recent interest by the federal government, who have indicated that they think maybe there should be some broad set of federal regulations which we would obviously be in support of,” he said.

A number of US states have legalised sports betting since a Supreme Court ruling on a case brought by the State of New Jersey struck down a 1992 law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which outlawed sports betting in most of the country. The Supreme Court decision didn’t legalise sports betting in all 50 states, instead allowing each one to create its own laws, if it chooses to do so.

Tatum was referring to Utah Senator Orrin Hatch’s push for a federal framework for legalised sports betting in the US Senate. Although the Senator is personally opposed to sports betting, he argued the case for a federal model in an address to the Senate Floor, saying that “there should be some consensus on at least some minimum standards on who can place a wager”.

The NBA deputy commissioner added that it was the league’s preference that all match data used by betting operators should be officially licensed by the NBA. He pointed to the league’s recent partnership with MGM International Resorts as one which would allow the league to monitor betting activity around its content.

“That partnership is really about the use of our NBA intellectual property, and the use of official NBA data, ensuring that the fans and the consumers who utilize and who bet on sports legally at MGM are getting access to official data,” he said. “There are protections in place and the sharing of information and data with MGM is going to help us identify if there are any potential issues that we need to be aware of.”

Such a position has the dual advantage of opening a new revenue stream for the league. Tatum explained that the MGM deal – believed to be worth $25m (€22m) –didn’t preclude the NBA from selling officially-licensed data to other betting operators and argued that the official NBA data designation would give betting operators a commercial advantage.

“There’s a use of intellectual property for them to say: ‘come here to place your bets because we’re using NBA official data, we are an Official Sports Betting Partner of the NBA’. So when you’re a consumer, you can say: ‘that’s a credible place for me to be able to place a safe bet’.”