Twenty years ago, major sports leagues in the US were adamant that legal sports gambling shouldn’t be allowed. They were so convinced that they collaborated with federal lawmakers to try to ban the activity, leading to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). After the Supreme Court told everyone involved in PASPA that they were wrong in 2018, there has been a complete reversal of the staunch opposition to sports gambling by all leagues. The NBA, to a certain degree, was one of those leagues, but is definitely using a different playbook now. As the league continues to align itself closer to sports wagers, it is launching a new show on its own NBA TV channel specifically for NBA sports gambling.
NBABet TV Comes to Life
The NBA Playoffs are set for the first tip-offs tomorrow and the NBA is going to drum up the sports betting hype with its new NBABet TV show. It is being presented by BetMGM and targets the NBA betting market. The inaugural broadcast will air tonight at 6:30 PM Eastern Time on NBA TV and is currently planned to run through the first two rounds of the playoffs. If things go well, it’s possible that the show will continue and ultimately could become a regular fixture on NBA TV.
As a further example of the league’s committed embrace of sports gambling, the NBA is also launching a new @NBABet handle for social media. It will be operated by The Action Network, which was just purchased by Better Collective, and is positioned as the handle that will be used for delivering “betting-centric video segments, highlights, and analysis.” When the second round of the Playoffs begins, NBA Bet will appear on NBA.com and the league’s app, with The Action Network, Bleacher Report, and others providing editorial input.
Sports Gambling Gains Through NBA Acceptance
Even before the Supreme Court dropped the ax on PASPA, the NBA began to see the writing on the wall. In 2014, Commissioner Adam Silver began hinting at the possibility of changes in the works when he published an op-ed piece in the New York Times about the benefits of legalized sports gambling. Only a few months after the death of PASPA, the league partnered with Sportradar and Genius Sports on data delivery deals and added DraftKings as its authorized sports gambling partner a year later.
Despite the increased attention to sports gambling by major leagues, the NBA doesn’t want to smother its fans with content that perhaps some don’t want to see. According to Scott Kaufman-Ross, the NBA’s senior vice president, head of fantasy and gaming, “We’ve consistently had the view that sports betting should be an opt-in experience. And the creation of NBABet gives us the ability to do that. We’ve created an environment in NBABet where we can serve betting content to the fans that want it, while not pushing it to the fans that aren’t interested.”
Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs begins tomorrow, with the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat getting things underway. BetMGM is giving the Bucks the advantage with a 4.5-point spread. However, the Heat beat them in five games in Round 2 of the playoffs last year, so this is anything but a slam dunk for the Bucks.