Two years after professional athletic organizations sued New Jersey to stop sports wagering in the state, NBA commissioner Adam Silver says he can see the benefit of expanding the practice in the U.S.
"It's inevitable that, if all these states are broke, that there will be legalized sports betting in more states than Nevada," Silver said, according to the Bloomberg news service. "We will ultimately participate in that."
In 2012, the NCAA, NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA sued New Jersey over its attempts to bring legalized sports betting to casinos and race tracks.
Former NBA commissioner David Stern was quoted in court documents as saying that sports betting would be a loss for the organizations and that New Jersey "doesn't care because all it's interested in is making a buck or two."
But speaking at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit in New York on Thursday, Silver, who replaced Stern in February, said he understands the need to pursue legalized sports betting and said the NBA could benefit from it.
"If you have a gentleman's bet or a small wager on any kind of sports contest, it makes you that much more engaged in it," Silver said, according to an ESPN report. "That's where we're going to see it pay dividends. If people are watching a game and clicking to bet on their smartphones, which is what people are doing in the United Kingdom right now, then it's much more likely you're going to stay tuned for a long time."
Though Nevada brought in $3.6 billion in sports wagers in 2013, the National Gambling Impact Study estimates about $380 billion is wagered illegally annually in the U.S., according to ESPN.
Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon received exemptions to maintain sports betting operations in place before Congress enacted the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 1992.
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