NBA commissioner Adam Silver is looking into the future of sports and believes that legalized sports gambling will expand from Las Vegas and grow in the U.S.; and when it does, he won’t have any reservations about the league participating and profiting from it.
Professional sports leagues in the states have traditionally been opposed to the legalization of gambling on their events because they believe that this move will open “a can of worms” that will be more damaging than profitable and Silver hasn’t said he was in favor of it, but he sees it coming and said he has no moral issue with sports betting and thinks it keeps people engaged in sports.
“While the NBA did not support New Jersey Governor Christopher Christie’s plan to implement sports gambling, the league does expect to face and profit from the broadening of legal sports gaming in the U.S., Silver said at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit in New York.
“It’s inevitable that, if all these states are broke, that there will be legalized sports betting in more states than Nevada and we will ultimately participate in that,” said Silver, 52. …
“If you have a gentleman’s bet or a small wager on any kind of sports contest, it makes you that much more engaged in it,” Silver said. “That’s where we’re going to see it pay dividends. If people are watching a game and clicking to bet on their smartphones, which is what people are doing in the United Kingdom right now, then it’s much more likely you’re going to stay tuned for a long time.”
Professional football is a good example of what can happen with legalized sports betting. The NFL is virtually designed for gamblers. In addition to the weekly point spreads, fantasy football is more popular than ever, and gives millions of fans a stake in multiple games that they would otherwise have little to no interest in caring about at all.
If legalized sports betting becomes more widely available, then Silver is absolutely correct to get behind this far in advance.
There’s other projects that are on Silver’s docket that will come to the forefront soon. China is a growing and valuable part of the NBA market, but the games are aired at atrocious hours. There’s a 12-hour time difference between the East Coast and Beijing.
Just like the former commissioner David Stern, Silver is pondering 10 a.m. games in the future.
“I think the biggest challenge (to growing the game internationally) is the time zone differences. I mean, for example, in China, roughly 12 hours different from the East Coast. So prime time games are on early in the morning, so you have to figure out whether we need to create new products, condensed games that are shown later, whether it becomes a business of highlights, whether it’s equivalent of tweets and other forms of social media.
“I think that’s sort of — part of the biggest challenge. I mean, ultimately, whether we should consider time-shifting some of our games. Once the audience becomes big enough, maybe it’s not so crazy to ask a team once every two months to play a Saturday morning game….
“Yes, maybe when the audience gets big enough China and you’re reaching 100 million people in China to say so maybe once in a while a team will play at 10:00 on Saturday morning.”
The commissioner believes that there’s great marketing potential overseas and thinks the NBA is a league that is growing in popularity worldwide.
Many player might not like the idea of having games scheduled early in the morning, but the team owners will bypass their feelings if it means a positive spike financially.