2021-10-01 10:00:00 – [email protected]
The NBA is not yet willing to allow its teams to sell jersey patch ads to betting companies – unlike the NHL.
One week ago, the Washington Capitals announced they would wear Caesars Sportsbook patches on two versions of their uniforms, starting with the 2022-23 season. But, in stark contrast, European soccer leagues have pending legislation to pull gambling ads off of team uniforms due to reports of “problem gambling’’ and “to protect children and prevent harm.’’ The NBA said this week it is keenly aware of that situation.
“We have restrictions because we see what happens internationally,’’ said the NBA’s Senior VP of Fantasy and Gaming Scott Kaufman-Ross, during Wednesday’s Sports Capital Symposium. “ Italy and Spain are markets where there’s full prohibitions on all sports betting advertising. The UK has a whistle-to-whistle ban. We’ve seen reports: it’s coming that they’re going to have to take the brands off the shirts.
“For us, we’re just monitoring all that stuff and being cautious…We didn’t think the time was right to open it up in that backdrop. Some leagues are more permissive on some things and less on others. So, we don’t judge anyone for what they’re looking to do. We didn’t feel the time was right for the NBA, and we’ll see where it goes from there.’’
The NHL just wrapped up an investigation of San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane, who had been accused of betting on league games by his estranged wife, Anna. The league announced there was no evidence Kane gambled or fixed games. But the case exposed the potential implications of out-in-the-open gaming ads.
The NBA has allowed teams such as the Wizards and Suns to have sportsbooks at their arenas and has other gaming business relationships. Although the league has no current intentions of expanding, Las Vegas likely would be under consideration for a team, and Kaufman-Ross reiterated that the NBA has never had an aversion or fear of Las Vegas — even having played its all-star game there as far back as 2007, with the late Kobe Bryant winning MVP.
“If you make [gambling] illegal, people will just find a way to do it illegally,’’ Kaufman-Ross said at the Sports Capital Symposium. “And that is why we changed our position. Look, we still do believe sports betting poses fundamental integrity risks to our games. That remains true. But what we have found is that federal prohibition on it just serves to push that activity underground. It doesn’t eliminate that activity…It just pushes it to a place where we can’t monitor it and there’s no transparencies.
“So, we’re actually in a better place to protect the integrity of our competitions if there’s legal regulated transparent monitoring…Yes, we still have the signs up in our [player] locker rooms: no gambling. Nothing’s changed. The only thing that’s changed here is that we realized it’s better for it to be happening out in the open where we have the tools to protect ourselves rather than having it be through off-shore websites and bookies.’’