NEW YORK (WFAN) — NBA commissioner Adam Silver says regardless of how the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the New Jersey sports betting case, he hopes there will be a new federal law regulating gambling.

Gov. Chris Christie’s administration is challenging a 1992 federal law that bans gambling on sports in all but four states — Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the case Monday, although a ruling might not come until June.

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“If the state of New Jersey were to win that case, I think we’re then looking at a framework that I don’t think is ideal, and that is that you have potentially 50 different sets of rules for 50 states,” Silver told WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Wednesday.

“I don’t agree with the current federal law. I’m on the same page with Gov. Christie there. It’s just that where he’s in essence promoting state-by-state ability to enter into sports betting how they may choose, our view and the NBA’s view is let’s have a new federal law that sets consistent guidelines from state to state, but at the same time gives states the option as to whether they want to allow sports betting in their jurisdictions.”

Adam Silver

NBA commissioner Adam Silver (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Silver said that even if New Jersey loses the case, he senses that support is growing for Congress to pass a federal sports-betting law.

“It’s happening largely illegally right now, largely underground,” he said. “We might as well regulate it.”


Francesa asked Silver why he thought the NBA hasn’t had the issues the NFL is facing with player protests.

“Maybe it’s in part that players have guaranteed contracts, that they feel safer speaking out on political issues that they care about, that there’s a long tradition in the NBA going back to Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell to people who were passionate union members who spoke out about societal issues that were important to them,” Silver said. “I think it’s a culture that’s been passed down from player to player. Because we play roughly three games a week and our players do media before and after every game, they have this ongoing platform to speak to the public, where NFL players may not.

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“My sense is that our players feel that they have opportunities that maybe players in other sports don’t to make their positions clear.”

Silver also noted that the NBA has had a rule in place since the 1980s that requires players to be present and standing for the national anthem.


Silver sounded open to revisiting the NBA’s rules allowing players to declare for the draft after just one season in college, although he cautioned that it’s not the league’s decision alone. He said he’s heard from college programs, including Duke, that have expressed “that it’s not a way to build the sport of basketball.”

“We’re taking a fresh look at it,” Sivler said. “It’s something that has to be collectively bargained with our union.”


Silver said that “several New Yorkers” have stepped forward to express interest in buying the WNBA’s Liberty. MSG Chairman and CEO James Dolan announced earlier this month he is actively searching for a new owner to take over immediate operations of the team, one of the league’s eight founding franchises.

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To listen to Francesa’s interview with Silver, click on the audio player above.