NBA Chief states league will keep watchful eye over gambling trends

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has told an audience in Las Vegas that the league is keeping a close eye on the gambling trends within the sport after a number of issues within football and college baseball in recent months. 

Silver told attendees of the Associated Press Sports Editors convention in Las Vegas that the league must do all it can to stay ahead of the threat of insider information to protect the integrity of the game. 

Per AP, Silver said: “I think that public markets worked very well in this country,” Silver said. “But the other side of a public market is the potential for insider trading. And there are very sophisticated algorithms, etc., that track it. It’s not that different in sports now, especially when you get higher volumes of betting. You have very sophisticated computers; when they see aberrational betting … you’re going to get caught.

“I think there’s a responsibility for these leagues to invest more in education, not just of our own players, but of young people who might be doing something inappropriate or anybody who might be engaging in problematic gambling.”

There have been well-documented integrity issues within a number of sports this year, including the NFL, UFC and college baseball.

Five Detroit Lions players were banned from playing earlier this year after authorities uncovered betting-related infractions, and this came nearly a year after Calvin Ridley was caught breaking the NFL’s gambling policies. 

Meanwhile, up to 50 college baseball players are under investigation in Iowa after suspicions of gambling-related rule infractions.

Nevertheless, the NBA has so far been immune from such problems, but that isn’t deterring Silver and his team from remaining ahead of the threats of manipulation. 

It is also worth noting that the NBA has had a direct link with the sports betting industry in the last six months, through its NBA Launchpad Initiative, in which micro betting firm nVenue has been developing a micro betting curation engine to enhance the fan experience. 

Speaking to SBC Americas about the role that sports betting can have in enhancing fan engagement and interest in the sport, the NBA’s SVP, Head of Gaming & New Business Ventures Scott Kaufman Ross said that it helps keep fans even closer to the action than ever. 

He stated: “I wouldn’t say that a targeted objective of this program is diversifying our revenue stream. I also wouldn’t say that’s not an objective, certainly, we are a business and we’re looking to grow our revenue base and to find new revenue streams. 

”But this really is about embracing new technologies and figuring out how they can help our game and the way that our fans experience our game. Sports betting is a relatively new part of the sports media ecosystem.

“You’re not doing your job in the broader media and technology world if you’re not embracing AI, and the changes they can make to your various offerings. It’s not as straightforward in basketball, because it’s really difficult to bet on the next basket. Our game is so fast-paced.”