The National Basketball Association has become the latest major American sports association to enter the gambling sector. They announced their partnership with William Hill in a press release last week.
William Hill are one of the pioneers of legal sports betting in America, already operating in 10 states. Their partnership with the NBA gives them the right to use official NBA betting data and their sports book will be promoted across the NBA’s official social media channels and broadcasts. They have a similar partnership in place with the National Hockey League.
This announcement coincided with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver making a number of changes to regulations which will improve the betting experience for fans.
Silver announced a rule change in early September which was ‘all about gambling’ according to The Action Network’s Matt Moore. For the 2019/2020 season NBA teams are required to announce their starting lineups 30 minutes before the start of games. This was only required 10 minutes before tip-off until this season.
The league has been plagued by ‘load management’ and ‘game-time decisions’ in recent years. Betting lines fluctuate in the moments leading up to games and both operators and bettors were frustrated by late changes to teams. The extra 20 minutes also gives bettors more time to bet in real bricks-and-mortar casinos.
The sports teams in Washington D.C have already proved to be innovators in the gambling space and that continues with the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals teaming up to install the first in-arena sports book in America.
The two teams, both owned by Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE), play their home games at the Capital One Arena. MSE CEO Ted Leonsis announced the ‘unprecedented sports betting partnership‘ with William Hill on Wednesday last.
The new sports book will be accessible from inside and outside the arena. It’s hoped that fans will be able to place bets on their phones during games.
No opening date has been set for the sports book but it’s quite likely that this trend will be copied across the leagues.
The NBA, like the NFL and NHL, initially opposed the legalisation of gambling in America for fear that it would damage the integrity of the game. Like NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Silver has stated that all the players will be educated on the new betting regulations. Their is a fear that insider information and bet-fixing may bring down the league’s reputation.
The NBA is caught up in a bit of a betting scandal at the moment. The league’s affiliated esports league – NBA2K League – has banned one of its most well-known players, Basil ’24K Dropoff’ Rose. Rose was found to be passing insider information to a group of people who he knew were betting on the NBA2K League. Although esports is not widely available to bet on in America, there are some sports books in Nevada that offer markets on the NBA2K League.
This may seem like a minor issue at the moment but as the NBA looks to become more involved in the sports betting industry it could cause problems.
It will be interesting to see how this story – and the NBA’s partnership with William Hill – develops in the coming months.