Rather than stand in the way of sports gambling, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is welcoming what he sees as an "inevitable" future.
Silver, speaking at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit Thursday, commented on the subject and shared the following statement, according to Mason Levinson and Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg.com:
"It's inevitable that, if all these states are broke, that there will be legalized sports betting in more states than Nevada. We will ultimately participate in that."
Silver also argues that embracing betting could help the league increase its fanbase as more people who have a financial stake in the action become glued to each night's slate of games.
The commissioner's comments signal a shift in the league's perspective on the matter.
In 2012, former Commissioner David Stern joined together with the other major American sports leagues and the NCAA as part of a lawsuit against the state of New Jersey after Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill paving the way for sports gambling in his state.
Stern didn't mince words when speaking out against the move.
"The one thing I'm certain of is New Jersey has no idea what it's doing and doesn't care because all it's interested in is making a buck or two, and they don't care that it's at our potential loss," he said at the time, per The Associated Press, via ESPN.com.
Fast forward to the present, and Silver likely sees the writing on the wall, figuring he should position the league in a way so as to profit off what he believes will be the oncoming growth of sports betting.
Matt Bonesteel of The Washington Post wrote that New Jersey is already laying the groundwork for increased sports gambling in its casinos:
New Jersey probably won’t be leading the charge, for now, even if the state’s casinos in Atlantic City are dropping like flies. In June, the New Jersey legislature essentially followed the road map set by states that have legalized marijuana, overwhelmingly passing two bills that called for the repeal of the state’s ban on sports gambling. In essence, the legislators were saying: We are going to legalize this, and if the federal government wants to stop it, it can go ahead and try.
If sports gambling is legalized in New Jersey, then it would almost certainly be the first domino to fall as other states try to hop on the bandwagon.
Silver's comments will likely be just the beginning of an ongoing conversation on this topic.