Haunted By a 2007 Referee Scandal, the NBA Pursues a 1 Percent Integrity Fee on Sports Betting
News that a referee, Tim Donaghy, was betting on games in which he officiated rocked the NBA back in 2007. Seven years later, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver called for legalized sports betting in an op-ed. And this past year, the NBA was the first professional sports league in the United States to propose a formal outline for how legal sports betting should work in the US.
I believe that sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated. — Adam Silver, NYT
Of course, they aren’t being totally selfless: the NBA wants a cut of the action. NBA officials formally proposed a 1 percent integrity fee that would apply to every bet placed on an NBA game. In theory, the money from this fee would help the league monitor unusual activity so they can ensure clean games. The logistics of how they would monitor for unusual activity are light on details as of now.
Following the NBA’s proposal, the state of Indiana introduced a bill in their legislature to allow gambling on sporting events with a 1 percent fee paid the the NBA and MLB for bets based on their games.
Historically, US-based professional sports leagues opposed any attempts at legalizing betting, but the slow crawl towards legal sports betting motivated the NBA into action. While other leagues, such as the NFL have not moved as quickly or forcefully on this front, they are considering the ramifications of legal sports betting.