National Post (Latest Edition)

NBA wants its cut of gambling

Controvers­ial plays may bring more scrutiny

- scott stinson in Oakland, Calif.

Adam Silver did his annual year-in-review press conference at the NBA Finals on Thursday night and it was rather bereft of bombshells.

This was not too surprising in a league that is enjoying considerab­le success at present and on the one spot of controvers­y — a Finals rematch for the fourth-straight year — the commission­er offered the hint of a possible significan­t shift in the way the NBA conducts its business. Cleveland and Golden State have the largest payrolls and pay the most in luxury tax penalties, he noted. But before he could even get out the words “hard salary cap” — an instrument that would have made it nearly impossible for the Warriors and Cavaliers to assemble their present lineups — Silver backed off. “That’s for another day,” he said, killing the headlines about a labour war before they could even be written.

It was a session bursting forth with reasonable­ness and continued so when the subject turned to gambling. Silver has been a proponent of legal sports wagering since his early days on the job, beginning in earnest with a newspaper op-ed four years ago that called for bringing gambling “out of the darkness” nationwide and submitting it to proper scrutiny and regulation. At the time, it was a huge change in position for the head of one of the major North American leagues, as evidenced by the fact that Silver’s contempora­ries all but shrieked Homer Simpson-style and reiterated long-held positions that their sports would be horribly tainted by legal wagering, even though that wagering was already legal in Nevada.

And so, Silver can’t entirely be accused of trying to make a quick buck with a push for an “integrity fee” that would give a cut of gambling proceeds to the NBA now that the U.S. Supreme Court, in a ruling last month, cleared the way for all states to follow the way of Nevada if they chose. He’s been out here saying this for years.

Silver said on Thursday that his league deserves a slice of gambling revenues partly to pay for the increased enforcemen­t measures that it will have to implement, but also as a royalty payment.

“In the case of the NBA, we’ll spend roughly US$7.5billion creating NBA basketball this season,” he said. “And to the extent that product is then used for casinos, betting parlours to make money on, we feel, just in the same way that a musician receives a royalty for the music that’s being played, that we should receive some sort of royalty.”

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