Bookmakers take root in NBA halls

After the shock of the pandemic to the accounts of sports businesses, the NBA has taken the liberalization of betting houses in their pavilions with the premiere of a gaming and betting hall at the Capital One Arena in Washington, the capital of the United States.

The Wizards pavilion received this weekend the visit of the owner of the team, Josh Harris, and the commissioner of the NBA, a Adam Silver that since 2014 has worked to open the way to the world of betting in the American league. The reasoning of the commissioner in an editorial in “The New York Times” came to say that if other countries did it, they should too.

The third game of the first round of playoffs between the Sixers and the Wizards, which ended in an away victory, it was a historic moment for American sports. It’s the first time that
you can legally gamble within a sports venue of these characteristics in the United States.

The fans started the afternoon watching the Champions League final between the Manchester City and Chelsea, later he went to his seats at the Capital One Arena and at halftime he returned to the venue to bet on the match they were witnessing live. Then they stayed to see the end of the Jazz-Grizzlies.

According to data from William Hill, the company that exploits the betting rights in the Wizards’ pavilion, 40% of the money wagered in the Washington area that night came from the Capital One Arena.

Those in charge of the new betting area at Capital One Arena inaugurate the space before the third first round match between the Wizards and Sixers.

The pioneer compound is open seven days a week and it has two bars and a top restaurant led by chef Nicholas Stefanelli. The forecasts are to fill the dining room every night.

Until 2018, a law prohibited legal gambling in the world of sports in almost all US states.., but a Supreme Court decision overturned the rule that restricted the world of gambling to the state of Nevada and its famous capital, Las Vegas.

Since then, bookmakers have started operating at full speed in 21 of the 50 states of the country. In the District of Columbia and Illinois, operators can be installed in pavilions and stadiums as is already done in the United Kingdom.

Aware of the complexity and fragile balance between the world of betting and sports, the commissioner Adam Silver stated that they want to “ensure that they strike the right balance for the promotion of bets around our matches ”.

The move, with the league’s accounts at a delicate moment after the impact of covid-19, has an obvious economic logic. In terms of the safety, mental and financial health of fans, the strategy is much more contentious.

“I am sensitive to the problem, but for most people it is something they can do, betting relatively small amounts of money on the games, “Silver explained in statements to NBC Sports. “It is an action that leads to a greater attraction when contemplating certain aspects of sport”.

As is normal with such delicate subjects, criticism of the project has also rained for the NBA and the franchise. “There is never a free meal, especially with something as lucrative and addictive as sports betting. “said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problems Gambling, in words collected by “The Washington Post.”

“All this speaks of the general indifference generated by the social costs of this type of initiative”, valued the expert delving into the matter. “It will be a huge slab for the league and the team, also for the bookmaker. They are operating within a completely unprotected community ”.

In Spain, the liberalization of the gambling world is in decline and the new ‘Gambling Law’ promoted by the Ministry of Consumption led by Alberto Garzón will prohibit from the 2021-2022 season advertising of sportsbooks on t-shirts, stadiums and other visible places in the world of competition, a measure that will especially affect football.