NBA chief calls for legalisation of sports betting in the USA

The controversial ban on sports betting in the United States is back in the spotlight following calls to legalise and regulate sports betting from NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

"I believe that sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated," Silver recently wrote in an article for the New York Times.

Silver's comments come just a few weeks after the NBA, along with several other sports leagues, filed a lawsuit against a New Jersey gambling bill that promised to liberalise sports betting in that state. The lawsuit was effective, and the bill has been temporarily halted.

Sports bodies had filed suit out of concern that the legalisation of sports betting at the state level would result in an increase in match fixing and cheating, damaging the credibility of their sports.

However, Silver does not believe that the continued ban on sports betting in all but four US states is a viable option, and has instead called for a reconsideration of legislation at the federal level. This is because the 1964 Federal Wire Act and the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 have effectively forced sports betting underground, creating an unregulated, untaxed industry valued at over $400 billion a year.

He believes that proper regulation, licensing and taxation of the sports betting industry would be a more constructive path forward, providing state and federal governments with additional tax revenue while also ensuring that all sports betting operators adhered to strict ethical guidelines.

"Let me be clear: Any new approach must ensure the integrity of the game," Silver said in his article. "Without a comprehensive federal solution, state measures such as New Jersey's recent initiative will be both unlawful and bad public policy."