The NBA is preparing to double down on policing its players, teams and staff amid the expansion of legalized sports gambling in the United States, deputy commissioner Mark Tatum told ESPN. Speaking in the United Kingdom on Wednesday, Tatum, who is also the NBA’s chief operating officer, revealed that moves have been made to get up to speed on the opportunities and threats surrounding the issue since May’s Supreme Court ruling that allowed states to sanction sportsbooks in a manner that has been commonplace in Europe for decades.
That will mean extra resources to prevent the kind of in-house infractions that have plagued a number of sports, such as soccer, tennis and cricket. Spanish police recently arrested 28 professional tennis players, including one who participated in the US Open, who were linked to a group accused of fixing matches. NBA’s gaming rules, overseen by the league’s security department, specifically prohibit betting, fixing or tipping, including the encouragement of others to place wagers, or exercising any “improper influence or manipulation.”
“Sports leagues provide the foundation for sports betting while bearing the risks that sports betting imposes, even when regulated,” Spillane said in the statement. “Without our games and fans, there could be no sports betting. And if sports betting becomes legal in New York and other states, sports leagues will need to invest more in compliance and enforcement, including bet monitoring, investigations, and education.”
Spillane was responding to a call by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Friday for states to oppose a bill that would give the federal government control of regulating sports betting. Christie told lawmakers from gambling states they should resist so-called “integrity fees” as well as the mandatory use of official league data. Leagues have been unsuccessful so far in getting states to agree to pay them a cut of sports betting.
A city-sponsored study estimated that 150 to 200 D.C. businesses might seek licenses to take sports bets, but the bill that was approved last month by the city council grants special privileges to the four stadiums and arenas. If those operators choose to get in the gambling business, no other entity can take sports bets legally within a two-block radius. That means the most prominent brick-and-mortar sports wagering locations in the city could be Capital One Arena in Chinatown, Nationals Park, the newly-constructed Audi Field and the St. Elizabeths East Entertainment and Sports Arena in Congress Heights.
Perhaps the biggest winner will be Monumental Sports CEO Ted Leonsis, who owns Capital One Arena, in addition to teams such as the Wizards, Capitals and Mystics, and has been an outspoken proponent of legalized sports betting. Because of league restrictions, Monumental would have to partner with an established gaming company to run the sports betting operation and effectively would serve as landlord to a sportsbook. Leonsis’s venture capital firm Revolution Growth has invested in DraftKings, but Monumental has not yet announced any gambling partners to date.