Adam Silver still firm on daily fantasy, sports betting

Adam Silver continues to be in favor of regulating both sports betting and daily fantasy sports. Peter Yang

The controversy surrounding daily fantasy sports has not changed NBA commissioner Adam Silver's belief that daily fantasy and traditional sports betting should be legalized and regulated in the United States.

Silver, speaking Monday on FiveThirtyEight's Hot Takedown podcast, said that despite ongoing legal debate of daily fantasy sports, the enormous growth of operators like DraftKings and FanDuel is proof that the consumer demand for DFS is largely unmet.

"My view is that daily fantasy should be a regulated industry in New York and elsewhere, and I think ultimately that should be a decision for the voters," Silver said.

In November, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman said DraftKings and FanDuel offered games that violated the state's gambling laws and demanded the sites cease operations in the state. The two sides are scheduled for a Jan. 4 appeals hearing to decide whether DraftKings and FanDuel will be allowed to continue to operate in the state while the legal case plays out.

"Whether or not the attorney general is right that, under a statute in New York, daily fantasy is something that should be considered gambling and therefore not allowed, I think that's just a short-term issue," Silver added. "The longer-term issue is for the legislature to decide whether daily fantasy is an activity that our representatives think is appropriate for the people in New York State to engage in."

Silver declined to discuss whether he believes daily fantasy sports is a game of skill or chance -- an important legal distinction in regard to most state gambling laws -- but he said allowing sports betting and fantasy sports to continue in an unregulated market is not in the best interest of the NBA.

"One of the reasons I've been pushing to legalize sports betting is not because that I'm necessarily an advocate of sports betting, it's because all the research shows that it's a multi-hundred-billion dollar business just in the United States right now," Silver said. "In terms of the integrity of the sports leagues, it's only bad news for us when it continues to remain underground ... [to] the extent there are fantasy sites or flat-out betting sites, where consumers identify themselves by putting credit cards in and then can be tracked the same way the stock market can track buying and selling, then that's much healthier for the leagues."

Silver would prefer that Congress creates a federal framework that deals with sports betting and fantasy sports over a "hodgepodge" of state regulations. He said, though, that he understands this is not something at the top of Congress' priority list, though Silver does believe it eventually needs to be addressed.

In November 2014, the NBA announced a deal with FanDuel that included equity in the company. Shortly after announcing the FanDuel deal, Silver penned an op-ed in the New York Times advocating for the legalization of betting on professional sports in the U.S.

The NBA, spearheaded by Silver, has been the most outspoken proponent of legalizing sports betting among the sports leagues, although Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has said the issue needs "fresh consideration." The NFL, at least publicly, remains opposed to legalizing sports betting in the U.S.