NBA Flops on Canadian Sports Betting Bill, Withdrawals Opposition

on June 25, 2015
NBA sports betting Canada Adam Silver

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is one major sporting boss that isn’t arguing against legalized athletics betting, telling Canadian lawmakers his league no longer opposes a sports betting bill in its parliament. (Image: AP/Mark Lennihan)

The National Basketball Association is reversing its opinion on C-290, a bill currently tabled in the Canadian Senate that seeks to permit single-game sports betting, a change from the current law that only allows wagering on athletics with a minimum of a three-game series.

First introduced in September of 2011 in the House of Commons, Parliament’s other legislative chamber, C-290 gained almost unilateral opposition from sport’s Big 4, the NBA, National Football League, Major League Baseball, and National Hockey League.

But this month the NBA shuffled its feet and traveled backwards on its original stance, but unfortunately for those in favor of sports betting expansion in Canada, the move is too little and much too late.

Shot Clock Expired

In a statement submitted to Canada’s Senate on June 8th, the NBA said, “Consistent with the NBA’s current position regarding legalized sports betting in the United States, the NBA is no longer opposed to legalized sports betting in Canada so long as there is an appropriate legislative framework that protects the integrity of the game under strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards.”

“Consistent with the NBA’s current position” refers to present NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s op-ed in the New York Times last November that called on “the laws of sports betting” to be changed. “Congress should adopt a federal framework that allows states to authorize betting on professional sports, subject to strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards,” Silver opined. 

But after three-and-a-half years of inaction, the NBA’s decision to speak-up comes less than a month prior to Parliament closing up shop for the summer, holding its last scheduled session tomorrow, June 26th.

The Senate won’t reconvene until late September, at which time lawmakers will have to reintroduce a new version of the bill.

WTF NFL, MLB, NHL

The NBA seems to be leading the sports betting charge both domestically and abroad, and the other Big 4 members would be smart to join the cause.

The tide certainly seems to be turning with regards to sports betting, and newly minted MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred seems to be more in-line with Silver than his predecessor Bud Selig.

“Gambling in terms of our society has changed its presence on legalization, and I think it’s important for there to be a conversation between me and the owners about what our institutional position will be,” Manfred said in February.

That’s a stark change from Selig who governed baseball for more than 20 years who said he was “really appalled” about the notion of sports betting as recently as 2012.

The potential impact of legalizing sports betting in America could have significant tax revenue benefits, as the American Gaming Association estimates $138.9 billion was wagered on sports last year, largely illegally. Only Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana currently allow betting on sporting events.

In Nevada alone, $3.9 billion was wagered on sports books in 2014, a 39 percent increase from 2010, creating a $227 million profit for the casinos and bookmakers.

The primary concern of leagues and associations in legalizing sports betting is the integrity of their games, but the International Olympic Committee says wagering on events would only have the opposite effect. “Legal betting on sports allows fans to extend their support for athletes and teams, thus helping to build stronger attachments towards the sport,” the IOC said of C-290.