Adam Silver NBA
Photo: Jae C. Hong/AP

In May 2018, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was unconstitutional. This law was keeping sports betting illegal federally. The new ruling leaves it to each individual US state to decide the legality of sports betting. Weeks after the sports betting ban was lifted, legislators from several states started working on the legalization of this gambling activity.

As of January 2022, there are 30 states in the US where sports betting is legal. Fifteen of those states have at least one representative in the National Basketball League (NBA). This fact brings out the question of whether the NBA, as an organization, is pro or anti sports betting.

Does the NBA Support Betting?

The organization has no problems with its teams making brand deals with licensed sportsbooks. In fact, the NBA can only profit from sportsbooks getting involved with its franchises.

Over the last couple of years, the organization has been spending a lot of time, money, and energy lobbying for sports betting legalization. Even NBA commissioner Adam Silver asked Congress to pass a special gambling bill.

Another evidence of the NBA’s pro-betting stance is that there are a number of teams in the league that have been sponsored by sportsbooks and/or casinos.

Some examples include Philadelphia 76ers who have a sponsorship deal with Betway Sportsbook and Los Angeles Lakers who are sponsored by BetMGM. The Lakers deal is especially interesting when considering that sports betting isn’t legal in their home state of California.

Over the border, the Toronto Raptors are reportedly working on a sponsorship deal with one of the best Canadian sportsbooks.

NBA’s Authorized Sportsbooks

Sportsbook sponsorship deals with individual NBA teams is only the tip of the iceberg. There are gaming companies that have inked a deal with the association itself. The first casino company to sign a deal with the NBA is MGM Resorts International. The deal was signed in 2018 and lasted for three years. The deal was inked very shortly after the Supreme Court decision.

The next gaming company to partner up with the NBA is BetStars. The NBA has named BetStars as the league’s “Official Gaming Partner.” More recently, the NBA announced sponsorship deals with two gaming companies that started out as fantasy sports platforms – DraftKings and FanDuel. During the current NBA season, FanDuel has taken the production responsibilities for NBA TV’s NBABet show. Meanwhile, DraftKings has been named the NBABet Stream’s presenting partner.

The Current State of NBA Betting in the US

In every state where sports betting is legal, it is possible to bet on NBA games. This gives more than 100 million Americans the option to put their money on NBA bets. However, there is a caveat. There are some states that do not allow betting on props. The best example is Nevada. Even though the state is famous for its gambling industry, its sports betting rules prohibit wagering on prop bets.

The explanation behind this lies in the very definition of prop bets. These wagers usually do not have anything to do with what’s happening in the game. Instead, they’re focused on the funny side of the sport. For instance, betting on whether a player will wear a headband in the game would be considered a prop. All the other basketball bets are available in all the states. Still, many American sportsbooks tend to keep their NBA offer limited to the most popular bet types – point spread, moneyline, points over/under, and so on.

What Does the Future Hold?

At the moment of writing, there are three US states on the road to legalization – Nebraska, Ohio, and Maryland. In all three states, betting laws are already in the legislatures for discussion. Depending on how quickly the legislators act, we could see sportsbooks launching in those states in the next couple of months.

Furthermore, there are a few more states in which legislators are reportedly thinking about changing their stance on sports betting. California, the most populous state in the country, is one of those. At the moment of writing, sports betting is not allowed in San Francisco, but legislators know there’s a great deal of potential tax revenue to be made from legalization.

If California makes sports betting legal, its NBA teams will have a chance to ink some lucrative sportsbook deals. California is the state that has more NBA franchises than any other state – Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, and Sacramento Kings. Another large state that might go on the road of sports betting legalization is Texas, home to the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, and Houston Rockets.