Okay okay, I’ll admit it. In the best interests of my family, friends, co-workers and even myself, I’ll admit it.
I have a serious NBA gambling problem.
Check it out. Here’s a partial selection of my current bets on teams and/or players:
Rookie of the Year:
$5 – Myles Turner (33 to 1)
$5 – Stanley Johnson (25 to 1)
$5.50 – Karl Anthony Towns (4.5 to 1)
$6.50 – Emmanuel Mudiay (6 to 1)
$10 – Mario Hezonja (15 to 1)
Over/Under season win totals:
$5 – Utah Jazz UNDER 43.5 wins
$8 – Charlotte Hornets UNDER 31.5 wins
$10 – Atlanta Hawks OVER 49.5 wins
$11 – Philadelphia 76ers OVER 20.5 wins
$14 – Memphis Grizzlies UNDER 50.5 wins
$21 – Orlando Magic OVER 34.5 wins
$72 – Denver Nuggets OVER 27.5 wins
Is this is problem because Mario Hezonja is a bad fit for an Orlando Magic team with a defensive-minded coach? Is this a problem because the Denver Nuggets, after a 6 and 5 start, have fallen off a cliff? Is this a problem because my R.O.Y. dark horse, Myles Turner, recently had thumb surgery while Kristaps Porzingis recently got his own song?
Yes, yes, and yes, but that’s not the point.
The real problem is that all these bets are hosted on a sketchy offshore betting site whose web address doesn’t end in .com or .net, and certainly doesn’t end in .gov. A close gambling friend and confidant of mine once worked up the nerve to cash out from this particular site. He had to provide so many pieces of personal information that it’s possible (probable) that his identity is currently being used (abused) all over the world. Meanwhile, gambling on sports is technically illegal in my state, so my balance, the one I’ve lovingly nurtured over the last few years, is basically Monopoly money—the idea of trying to cash out is just a little too terrifying at this point.
I have no real control over my “earnings,” and that’s a serious problem.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver also has a gambling problem. Everyone is making money gambling on the NBA except the NBA. He has no control over who, where, or when people are betting on the NBA, so he’s making it crystal clear that he’s interested in getting a piece of the action.
But just because Adam Silver believes that “sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated,” that doesn’t mean that change is imminent.
Back in 1992 the U.S. Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which was designed to protect U.S. sports from the spread of gambling. All major U.S. leagues—NBA, NHL, MLB, NFL, as well as the NCAA—supported it. As recently as 2012, those same leagues filed suit against the state of New Jersey to prevent the state and Governor Chris Christie from moving forward with the creation of their own statewide sports gambling system.
So it’s probably going to be a little ticklish for Adam Silver and the NBA to make too hard a push to create anything real and lasting regarding legal gambling at the moment. But that doesn’t mean they’re not going to at least go ahead stick their toe in the water…
Perhaps you’ve already noticed the name “FanDuel” behind NBA players during some of this season’s post-game press conferences. Perhaps you’ve also noticed a new show on NBATV called “FanDuel Fantasy Tip-Off”, which essentially serves as a glorified 30-minute infomercial for FanDuel that airs before games start each night. That’s because back in November 2014 the NBA signed a partnership deal with FanDuel, thereby securing an equity position in the fantasy gaming site. Thus, the NBA, by diving in and becoming a shareholder, has purchased a measure of control over the action. And that’s okay, because fantasy is a game of skill and not really gambling at all, right?
But there’s a scenario beyond fantasy blah blah “millions in real cash prizes” pseudo-gambling that just might help me and the Commish.
Remember that 2012 New Jersey attempt to legalize sports gambling from a few paragraphs ago? Well, Governor Christie and a bunch of his friends in Atlantic City refuse to let the dream die. In September of this year, two weeks after a three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals panel rejected the state’s latest attempt to allow casinos and racetracks to offer wagering on sports, Chris Christie’s administration filed a Hail Mary motion to re-hear the case (as of this post, it’s still pending).
Well, well, potential GOP presidential nominee Chris Christie has a gambling problem, too. Apparently it’s the same as Adam Silver and I: outside of Nevada (and some minor PASPA allowances grandfathered in for Delaware, Montana and Oregon) gambling on sports isn’t really legal!
But even if Mr. Christie doesn’t get his way in New Jersey, and even if he doesn’t grab the GOP nomination or the presidency (full disclosure: I’ve got my own Hail Mary – a $5 bet on Christie to be the GOP nominee at 12 to 1), there might still be hope, not only for legal sports gambling in New Jersey, but for the entire U.S.A.:
(Marco, not Ricky.)
Oh, and um, fuller disclosure: I’ve got a second bet on who’ll be the GOP nominee - $10 on Rubio at 2.5 to 1. But let’s not dwell on that.
I mean, seriously, imagine Republican free market capitalist President Rubio in the White House. By the time he gets into office he’ll undoubtedly owe tons of favors. He’s got ties to the Cuban community in Miami, lots of aging, semi-retired east coast mobsters soaking up sun, and his V.P. could be (you guessed it) Chris Christie! My god, it’s like a television cop drama come to life: C.S.I. GOP! And together Rubio and Christie would fight crime and terrorists and stuff, and they’d usher in a new era of safe, legal sports gambling. And the tax revenues would simultaneously help normal law-abiding citizens like you an me, and…
Oh damn! Wait a sec. Never mind all that. I forgot something kind of important.