David Stern NBA sports betting PASPA
Former NBA Commissioner David Stern now supports sports betting, a drastic turn from the position he took during his 30-year career overseeing professional basketball in the US. (Image: Grant Lamos IV/Getty Images)

Former NBA Commissioner David Stern dragged his pivot foot, but won’t be called for traveling when it comes to his stance on sports betting.

During the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) Global Gaming Expo last week, Stern said his position on sports betting has evolved since he left the National Basketball Association in 2014. A resolute member of the opposition party to sports betting during his 30-year tenure as the basketball boss in America, Stern’s switching teams and says it’s now time to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA).

“The belief that gambling will lead to bad things is an outdated notion,” Stern said. “Whatever barrier perhaps existed is gone. So, to me, if they’re going to be doing daily fantasy, you might as well legalize gambling.”

The emergence of daily fantasy sports (DFS) has apparently calmed Stern’s concerns over sports integrity. DFS players are currently playing weekly and daily contests in 40 states.

Stern Stance Withdrawn

Instead of favoring an all-out federal ban on sports betting, Stern, like his successor Adam Silver, believes states and each individual league should determine its position.

Silver has been the leading proponent of sports betting among the four major professional sports leagues in the US. “I think it should be legal. I think it should be regulated. It should be transparent,” Silver said last spring.

Stern explained, “If a sport says, ‘I don’t want to have my games bet on,’ then they should have the opportunity to opt out. If a state says, ‘I don’t want to have betting’ for any number of reasons, they don’t have to have betting.”

Stern’s transition to pro-choice is a great win for sports betting proponents. Stern once declared that the ending of sports betting prohibition would “irreparably harm” the NBA.

Stern is no stranger to the associated risks.

His tenure as NBA commissioner included overseeing the 2007 investigation of referee Tim Donaghy. The 13-year veteran ref pleaded guilty to betting on games he officiated, and admitted to making calls late in the game to affect the point spread.

Defense Wins Games

Stern now believes a regulated industry better serves the integrity of basketball.

Safety protocols, such as those offered by Sportradar, are more capable of defending against illegal betting. In September, the NBA reached a deal with Sportradar to utilize its game integrity system that monitors global betting activity and trends.

In-play live betting has generated a need for additional security monitoring networks.

No longer are sportsbooks in Nevada confined to offering point spreads, over/unders, and moneyline bets. Books can now offer in-game options like whether LeBron James will make his next free throw, or if Steph Curry will pick up a sixth foul after just being called for his fifth.

Sportradar can keep tabs on suspicious bets. Say a 90 percent free-throw shooter misses four straight, and millions of dollars are bet on that unlikely outcome, regulatory agencies could quickly investigate.