Monday, December 14th, 2009 at 9:00 am  |  51 responses

Stern on NBA Betting: ‘Huge Opportunity’

by Marcel Mutoni / @marcel_mutoni

David Stern and his league may be facing the biggest scandal of his tenure (l’affaire Donaghy), but that apparently won’t stop the commish from openly speculating on the “huge opportunity” that legalized betting could someday provide for the NBA.

Stern is careful to say that his league isn’t fully committed to the idea, but that it’s definitely in the realm of possibilities for the future.

SI has the report:

Without committing himself in any way, Stern acknowledged that sports betting could create a new stream of revenue for the NBA — not unlike the interest that March Madness betting pools have created for the NCAA tournament. “You’re right about the threat that we perceive, and we stay on it,” said Stern of the menace of illegal gambling rings. “I think the threat is the same legal and illegal — the threat is there.”

“Gambling, however it may have moved closer to the line [of becoming acceptable], is still viewed on the threat side,” he said. “Although we understand fully why, buried within that threat there may be a huge opportunity as well.”

Revenues are down across the League — and for some teams, dramatically so — so it’s not surprising that David Stern is exploring all kinds of possibilities to refill the NBA’s coffers. It’s one of the reasons why a Russian billionaire with a vert sketchy past is on the verge of owning a franchise.

Whether or not legalized betting becomes a reality under Stern’s leadership is impossible to know at this point. But that it’s even being contemplated, and that he’s willing to discuss it with reporters speaks volumes about where the League stands financially these days.

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  • http://www.worldstarhiphop.com The Real

    NBA #s are down, revenue gotta come from somewhere. at the end of the day it is a business

  • Lee

    How I will pick the winners in my NBA bracket: By throwing darts at a board with “Lakers” written all over it.

  • http://dsjfhklf.com Jukai

    I’ll bet ten dollars on the Clippers every year. If the stars align and they win an NBA championship, I’d make millions.

  • Hoodsnake

    Maybe they should try WWE-type storylines while they at it? Seriously though its a regrettable idea even to think about it man.

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    I think I might be 100% wrong here, but does this mean that you (US Citizens) can’t bet on NBA games? That’s insane.
    I can bet on NBA and NCAA games here… I must be missing something huge.

  • http://none The Philosopher

    I make money every year on the NBA.

  • http://none The Philosopher

    There are nights when I will win significant amounts of money with very little money put up to bet. But you absolutely HAVE to know exactly what you’re doing.

  • http://dsfjkf.com Jukai

    Hursty, I believe they’re talking about NBA sponsored betting.

  • Coach Walt

    They flirt with the idea of betting b/c Donaghy is telling the truth, and this way it will let that die down..but if they allow betting can we really trust the refs? In this day in age everyone can be bought..

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    So, the NBA would get a certain % ‘cut’ from any bets placed (and money won/lost) on teams? 5% or something from betting agencies? I don’t know any in the US specifically, but like betfair, TAB, Sportsbet etc.

  • rikson

    Its very naive to think there is no betting going on b/c its illegal… just sayin!

  • http://slamonline.com/ niQ

    Since Raptors are doing so bad this year, if I bet on them and they win, do I win big?

  • http://jayemmbee.blogspot.com CLUTCHperformer

    @ Niq, the Raptors are 11-15, that isnt bad, talk to the Nets and Utah about bad, raptors were in the 8th seed the other day.

    that said, in Canada we have Proline, we can bet on any sport, and its part of the lottery

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    They won’t move a franchise to Las Vegas but they will consider legalized betting?

  • dutch Rob

    Yeah why isn’t there a franchise in Las Vegas??
    Basketball , baseball or any other sport thats not named Boxing or MMA?

  • AlbertBarr

    I always think that a Las Vegas team would not have very good home court advantage. It would be a bunch of high rollers and such and tourists in the arena. When the Lakers came to town their fans would probably drive to see the game. It would be a spectacle for sure but…too close to the gambling. Players would be doing media sessions at the craps table…that is right outside the locker rooms. Slot machines in the showers. Not good.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Las Vegas actually has a pretty big urban population, probably more than Sacramento.

  • AlbertBarr

    But would the arena reserve the tickets for locals, or would they rather charge lots of money to guests to see a game? Not a population question but a marketing/profit one. Who can they make the most money off of…locals or tourists/high rollers?

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    The NBA could make a lot of money selling cocaine and starting loan shark operations, too. They should look into it. Buried within that threat may be a huge opportunity.

  • RedRum

    My thoughts exactly Russ! while we are at it, how about converting some of the arenas’ suites to brothels, do you know how much revenue will that bring?


    RedRum, I agree. It’s about time we returned “balling” to it’s true meaning.

  • http://slamonline.com cb 34

    @ Russ and redrum: What do you guys expect? Do you honestly thing the illegal gambling will stop? It’ll always be a concern so the higher-ups have decided to deal with it. It’s not like they have a choice in the matter. The gambling thing will only get bigger. It’s too big now that it’s impossible to stop. They’re just being realistic about it. Would you rather they ignored the issue altogether? It’s the only move Stern can make especially with all the heat going around.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    But do they have to make money off of it? Drugs and prostitution aren’t going to stop, either. So why doesn’t the NBA step in and profit off of those, too? This is the kind of thing the mob or a street gang would do, not a damn professional sports league. It’s embarassing and disheartening and yet another reason why David Stern needs to go. If the League needs money that badly, fold “NBA China,” get rid of some of the horrible franchises (New Jersey, Memphis, New Orleans, Charlotte, for starters), drop the WNBA, and stop talking about expanding to Europe.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Bad idea. If this gets through it will only cheapen the NBA’s competition. Unlike many other sports and competitions – even international ones – the NBA has been relatively free of betting scandals, referee bribery and the like. A move like this opens the way for dozens of Tim Donaghy’s.

  • LA Huey

    co-sign, Russ

  • Yesse

    Why is Stern so scared of Tim Donaghy if he should have nothing to be afraid of?

  • Hoodsnake

    If the fan on the street can say no to this i think the majority of this problem can be curbed. Not laying the blame in front of anybodys door but Its sick to even think
    about it

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    yesse, stern has many things to be afraid of. some things he did right in the open, the pau gasol trade for starters. russ is right, stop the asia, europe crap, let the wnba stand on its own. theres millions saved right there. and maybe fold a couple teams

  • http://www.need4sheed.com Tarzan Cooper

    if new orleans gets folded. the ensuing expansion draft will be bigger than any draft since 03.

  • stupidgit

    first women in the L, now gambling? commish needs to come back down to earth

  • http://kicksoncard.tumblr.com zack

    David Stern, please die. thanks

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    So Donagay see’s a ‘huge opportunity’ and goes to jail. Sternbot see’s the same opportunity…and goes to the bank…?

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Russ, are you f*cking kidding me? Do you know how much money the Chinese market brings in to he NBA, or are you just a xenophobic idiot?

  • Teddy-the-Bear


  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Why not kick out all the European players in order to downsize NBA rosters while we’re at it? Why not take jobs away from the hundreds of people who work for the WNBA? Because, you know, they don’t need to eat! I like how you would rather see people lose their jobs entirely, than to see the NBA lower the enormous salaries of their top players–especially since this would be a more realistic option.
    But hey, according to Russ, the NBA should keep to itself and shut out people of other nationalities–that’s the American way! While we’re at it, Russ, let’s build that 10 ft. wall to keep the Mexicans out, and ban all outsourcing of jobs–no matter how many people need them from all over the world. We’ll just blame OTHER nations for the economic crisis too, while we’re at it.
    Normally you make at least SOME sense, Russ, but your ideas here are just plain stupid. Not only that, they’re a little offensive, too. No offense Russ, but get off that xenophobic bullsh!t, pal.

  • http://slamonline.com Krishan

    Teddy listen to your inner Tim Duncan and “Calm the fvck down”. It wasn’t xenophobic, russ just blurted out several options the nba could take to stop losing revenue, other than legalizing AND sponsoring betting, which would be a horrible idea.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    @Teddy: I think Russ was being pragmatic, not xenophobic.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Its practical to shut out a fan base of 1.3 billion people who clearly show interest in basketball because you want to save money? Does that make ANY sense to you? That’s definitely not being pragmatic.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Wow, I’m not even responding to that. Again, why I should refrain from commenting entirely.

  • rikson

    Stern just found out, that he cant win against illegal gambling, so he just wants his ship to move on! Be mad at the circumstances – not at the captain

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    Teddy, man, just.. shut up. That was totally inappropriate.

  • wilz

    within teddy’s rant there’s a glimmer of sense

  • http://fashionsensei.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/jackie-moon.jpg Jackie Moon

    Russ – that’s not why you should refrain from commenting entirely.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    I was being inappropriate because what, Russ is a writer? He says some utter nonsense that I find offensive, and doesn’t respond after I speak my mind. I’m being inappropriate?
    The only response he can come up with is that he won’t comment anymore. Right.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Your response was the equivalent of shooting someone in the face because they rustled their newspaper. My entire point was simply that if the NBA is so worried about revenue that they’d consider profits from sports betting to be a reasonable source (which is utterly appalling), that perhaps they should look to cut costs elsewhere first. Nowhere did I suggest, imply, or otherwise indicate that the NBA should place restrictions on who is allowed to play in the League. Your hysterical claims of “xenophobia” are both laughable and insulting.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Interesting method of debate, though.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Russ Bengtson Posted: Dec.14 at 3:57 pm
    “If the League needs money that badly, fold ‘NBA China,’ get rid of some of the horrible franchises (New Jersey, Memphis, New Orleans, Charlotte, for starters), drop the WNBA, and stop talking about expanding to Europe.”

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    So, rather than embracing bets (which I am also against), your only solutions besides tearing down the best professional women’s league in basketball, is to stop marketing to for’ners. Just how do you expect the NBA will cut costs by “folding” its exposure in China, the nation with the most people in the world? This offends me in two ways: One, you are suggesting that the NBA’s international endeavors are what is causing their loss in revenue, which is complete and utter bull considering how many fans they have internationally. This is a cop out; its as ridiculous as the US blaming other nations for the economic depression. Second, as a Chinese person who knows numerous other Chinese fans both in North America and in China, your solution to fold “NBA China” is a slap in the face to these fans–who, by the way, ADD revenue to the NBA. This also applies to your suggestion of eliminating the NBA’s marketing to Europe (where I suspect basketball is also popular).
    No offense intended, but you don’t find ANYTHING wrong with wanting to isolate the NBA from other nations in the world? That is very alarming that even TODAY, there are still some people who blame other nations for the US’s problems. This is a little extreme, but I can’t help but be reminded of the people who blame immigrants for the lack of jobs in America.
    Its a FACT that the NBA has skyrocketed in value due to its popularity in China and other parts of the world. Pointing fingers and cutting off a reliable fanbase makes no sense whatsoever.
    I understand your point about cutting costs elswhere, but your first few ideas (and cutting off Europe) are what irritate me.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    I’m not accusing you of racism, and I don’t mean to sound insulting, but I definitely do not like nor do I agree with that reasoning. Right now in the 21st Century, for a business as big as the NBA, isolating itself from huge international markets is definitely NOT a solution.
    Also, why not trim the salaries of hundred-millionaires like Gilbert Arenas and Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, instead of cutting off entire franchises and folding an entire women’s league? If the megastars sacrificed even a mild percentage of their already gigantic salaries, the jobs of many other players would be secure.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Alright, I shouldn’t have cussed before, Russ. My apologies for THAT. And perhaps xenophobic is a little harsh, although you really didn’t clarify enough in your initial post, and it sounded that way–now that you’ve explained yourself though, I’m not so hostile anymore. You get my drift though, right?

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    One more thing: Taking the NBA away from other countries like China, and nations in Europe, is ridiculous because it would be the NBA’s own loss; nobody elses. The NBA is not doing a charity by being in China, they’re there to make money–let’s get that clear. China did fine without the NBA, and Europe did fine with just their Euroleague, for DECADES before, and they’d be just as fine today. This American high horse that assumes American agencies are in foreign lands to help OTHER people, and that they are just being burdened is total crap. Read Tarzan, and Russ, and whoever else: TOTAL crap. Globalization works both ways.