Commissioner David Stern Expected to Speak at the Global Gaming Expo on September 29
Former NBA Commissioner David Stern is scheduled to speak at the Global Gaming Expo on September 29 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas. David Stern is expected to give an address on the future of sports betting in America, as well as the impact of sports gambling on the major U.S. professional sports.
Expected to be on the stage with Commissioner Stern at G2E is Geoff Freeman, the CEO of the American Gaming Association. The AGA represents a cross-section of America’s biggest casino and gambling-related companies, including Las Vegas Sands Corp., MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, Scientific Games, IGT, Churchill Downs, and others.
David Stern’s Opposition to More Sportsbooks
During his 30-year tenure as the NBA Commissioner, David Stern was an unrelenting supporter of a ban on sports betting in the United States. Stern was one of the leaders of the American sports associations which lobbied for the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which banned sports betting in all but 4 U.S. states.
It is largely forgotten now, but the NBA, NFL, and other sports leagues lobbied to have a 50-state ban at the time. Only an energetic lobbying effort by Nevada and the other states with sports betting at the time (Delaware, Oregon, and Montana) were able to save gaming in those states. Those states’ pro-gaming laws were grandfathered into the PASPA at the time.
Other states were given a 1-year window in which to legalize sportsbooks in their states, too. That proved to be a forward-thinking stipulation, because that stipulation appears to be the rock on which attempts to strike down the PASPA have broken. In New Jersey’s 5-year attempt to strike down the 46-state sports betting ban, it argued that the PASPA violates the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution, because it favors one set of states over the others. Because states had the right to pass pro-sports betting laws at the time, 12 judges in Philadelphia voted this week that fairness was maintained.
David Stern Was Appalled by Chris Christie
During New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s attempts to legalize sportsbooks in his state, David Stern was the most outspoken critics of Gov. Christie’s attempts. David Stern once called New Jersey’s attempts to challenge the PASPA appalled him, during remarks he made in 2012 when he was called to testify in the lawsuit.
David Stern, an outspoken Democrat, criticized the Republican governor of New Jersey at the time of the trial. He said, “Chris Christie needs money. But gambling is so…the threat of gambling and to create more threat is to me–I’m stunned. I know that people need sources of revenue, but you can’t–this is corruption in my opinion. I have to say to you I’m appalled. I’m really appalled.”
It was David Stern, Commissioner Roger Goodell of the NFL, Commissioner Bud Selig of Major League Baseball, Commissioner Gary Bettman of the NHL, and Pres. Mark Emmert of the NCAA who filed the lawsuit against New Jersey in 2012.
Eventually, Stern was called to testify, which is when he said, “New Jersey’s contemplated sports betting scheme threatens to harm irreparably not only the unique relations the NBA enjoys with its existing fans, but also the league’s potential relationship with future fans, who may form allegiances to a particular team because they are drawn instead to the competing interest of the betting line and the money that can be made from it.”
Calls for a Federal Law on Sports Betting
David Stern’s remarks at the G2E event are expected to be much different. Stern’s handpicked replacement as NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, has reversed course to a certain extent on sports betting. Commissioner Silver wrote a New York Times opinion piece in December 2015, stating he supported legalization and federal regulation of sports betting, because he believed it was inevitable and it would bring billions of dollars to the NBA–if done right.
That is the crux of the argument these days: will it be federal regulation over 50 states or a piecemeal set of regulations passed separately by those 50 states? Adam Silver still believes the piecemeal approach New Jersey wants is unworkable, because it would be complicated to enforce and leave significant room for illegal bookie operations. Instead, he wants a federal law regulating sports betting, so the rules would be applied universally and, presumably, evenhandedly.
David Stern: “Let’s Go All The Way”
David Stern came out in support of his successor at a New York City conference in October 2015. Stern said at the time, “I’m with Commissioner Silver. There should be a federal legislation that says, ‘Let’s go all the way’ and have betting on sports. It’s OK. It’s going to be properly regulated.”
Thus, it appears that David Stern has reversed course to a certain extent, too. Perhaps more importantly, the invitation to speak at the Global Gaming Expo indicates that the American Gaming Association is starting to think seriously about a 50-state solution to the sports betting issue. The industry would need to be on the same page, if it was to have a legitimate chance to change the sports gambling laws in America.
The Global Gaming Expo is the world’s largest gambling industry conference and exposition. Each year, the G2E is held in Las Vegas over the course of a few days in the early autumn. This year, the G2E event is being held from September 26 to September 29.
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