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How the Legalization of Sports Betting Will Affect the NBA

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst breaks down the implications of Monday’s Supreme Court decision to legalize sports betting at the federal level.

Betting On Bike Racing: Keirin Culture In Japan Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Monday’s Supreme Court decision to officially make sports gambling legal at the federal level, opening the door to allow individual states to legalize the practice, left many questions, especially in regard to how it will affect professional sports league. ESPN senior writer Brian Windhorst has compiled a handy FAQ for how the decision is expected to affect the NBA specifically.

Among the more interesting explanations:

Q: Will the players get a cut?

A: Absolutely. Sponsorships fall under basketball-related income (BRI), and the players get 50 percent of that money. Also, in the recent collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the union negotiated that income from gambling falls under BRI and will be shared with the players. This is the new vein of revenue for the league.

Q: How will fans be able to place bets?

A: Here’s how you know the NBA really wants gambling. In some of the states that are rushing to pass gambling laws, lawmakers want to make people go to their existing casinos or racetracks and physically bet at a window or kiosk. It’s an effort to save or buttress these institutions. But the NBA has been actively lobbying states to offer betting on mobile phones and even for fans to be able to register a mobile gambling account without having to go to a sportsbook first (which is the case in Nevada). The league says it’s to compete with the illegal sportsbooks that offer such action. But, of course, it would likely mean way more betting this way ... perhaps even within arenas during games.

Q: How will this change the way the league handles DNP-rest and injuries?

A: There’s going to have to be vastly increased transparency, and teams will probably have to announce who is playing earlier. The NFL, which knows where the bread is buttered, has been doing this with injury reports and practice reports for years. The NBA has started the process, though teams still sometimes embellish injuries to cover for rest. Screws will get tightened. There’s too much money involved.

Windhorst also notes that it will likely take a year or two for individual states to fully set-up sports gambling operations, and that the ruling could lead to an influx of casino-sponsored jersey ads in the near future. Check out the full FAQ here.