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Legalise, regulate betting in sport, says NBA chief

Giving the owner’s perspective, Ranadive said that legalising betting would serve as a means to increase fan engagement.

Written by Shahid Judge | Mumbai |
December 4, 2014 1:38:24 am

On his first visit to India, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has devised avenues to increase basketball’s footprint in the country.

Bringing NBA teams to India for exhibitions, is one of the idea, which he has floated. Another is to attempt bridging the time-difference between India and the United States. NBA matches are telecast at 6:30 am, IST. “There is a large population of basketball viewers in Asia. We can look at shifting atleast a game every month to a particular time that would suit audiences here,” Silver says.

The idea needs deliberation with Indian broadcasters and NBA franchises. He added that Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, who is of Indian origin, will agree to such a change. “I’m sure he will agree. Having said that, we need to study the move before implementing it because we don’t want sleepy players on court,” he says. Since taking over as the commissioner, Silver has looked to improve the league’s fan-following in Asia.

Push for transparency 

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One of the recommendations he put forward involves legalising of sports betting. The 52-year-old said an ‘enormous underground culture of sports betting’ prevalent which goes against the philosophy of transparency the basketball body follows. “One of the things I’ve asked NBA owners, is the push for transparency in everything we do. Transparency in officiating, transparency in play,” he asserts.

“I will talk to the Congress, and will push for a legislation that will allow our states to decide whether it is something they want to participate in. In the US, all the states have lotteries. I’m not trying to encourage sports betting, I’m just saying there is a lot of sports betting , and if it’s going to happen, it must be done in a regulated environment,” he said.

Giving the owner’s perspective, Ranadive said that legalising betting would serve as a means to increase fan engagement. “A part of what gets fans involved in games is to let them bet on matches. So this is a logical evolution of the sport,” he explained.

Business objectives are part of the Indian sojourn, but the obvious queries are on when an Indian would crack the NBA. He asserts, greater participation increases chances of having an Indian qualify in the NBA. “It’s all a numbers game. The more people are watching, means more people will play. More people playing means a higher chance of producing a big player for the big league,” he added.

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