NBA Commissioner Adam Silver isn’t one to be shy about expressing his opinions and stances regarding the sport he so passionately oversees.
Since the daily fantasy sports scandal erupted two weeks ago when a DraftKings employee won $350,000 on rival FanDuel, the leaders of the Big Four (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) and National Collegiate Athletic Association have avoided addressing the issue.
Silver ended that silence this week, telling ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” the market needs oversight.
“There should be regulatory framework,” Silver stated. “There should be increased transparency for consumers. I think it would ultimately aid the industry.”
Daily fantasy sports (DFS) is currently operating in 44 states thanks to a loophole in the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act that didn’t include fantasy games because at the time it wasn’t a prevalent online activity.
In his first year as the boss of basketball, Silver sent shockwaves through professional sports when he called for the legalization of sports betting outside of Nevada.
“Because there are few legal options available, those who wish to bet resort to illicit bookmaking operations and shady offshore websites,” Silver wrote in a New York Times editorial. “Gambling has increasingly become a popular and accepted form of entertainment in the United States.”
“In light of these domestic and global trends, the laws on sports betting should be changed.”
Leading the national discussion on sports betting, Silver is now addressing DFS.
“In terms of the very public positions I have taken on sports betting, my foremost concern is with the integrity of our game,” he said this week.
The NFL, MLB, and NHL have all maintained their positions on being opposed to legalizing sports betting, but join Silver and the NBA is supporting daily fantasy contests. In fact, several of the leagues have vested interests in seeing the DFS market continue.
MLB has a stake in DraftKings, as does New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
FanDuel handed the NBA a minority ownership share in its company in exchange for the rights to branding the platform as the league’s official daily fantasy partner. Silver diminished the relationship, saying his league isn’t a decision-maker and the small equity didn’t involve writing a check.
From the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI to the Big Four and politicians around the country, it seems as if everyone has a hand in the DFS jar. However, no one is more notable than US Attorney Preet Bharara, the prosecutor from the Southern District of New York that was the mastermind of seizing PokerStars and Full Tilt back in 2011.
Bharara hasn’t publicly commented on his office’s investigation, but various media reports have surfaced claiming online gambling’s leading DOJ adversary is indeed seeking out information to possibly build a case against daily fantasy contests.
Should Bharara or any other legal entity declare DFS to be in violation of current laws, Silver will likely get the regulatory framework. Both operators and politicians are expected to be in favor of creating an authorized structure for the contests to continue, and for states to being reaping the tax benefits.