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Denver Nuggets and the NBA: Wanna bet?

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Like it or not, a new era in sports betting is coming to the United States, and your Denver Nuggets (and many others) stand to gain. But is it a good thing?

NBA All-Star Game 2018 - Commissioner Adam Silver Press Conference
Adam Silver has proven a powerful persuader
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

“Five bucks says Jokic gets a triple-double tonight.”

I’d said this to a great friend hours before Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic snapped off the fastest triple-double in NBA history. I was pretty happy that he took the bet, knowing that the Joker already had multiple triple doubles against the Milwaukee Bucks team he was playing that night. If that same buddy is reading this, I’d be more than happy to give you that five bucks back. I had a little more data than you that go-round. I also hadn’t planned on reporting it on my taxes this year.

But maybe I should reconsider, given shifts in the law, with sports wagering seeing a new day in the limelight this last week after the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a federal law, was unconstitutional, opening the door for individual states to legalize sports betting. Several states and leagues have pushed and prepared for this outcome, with New Jersey and the NBA at the vanguard of those efforts. It’s a fairly synchronous arrangement, with the league’s headquarters only recently moving to New York City from New Jersey’s Secaucus.

League Commissioner Adam Silver made compelling arguments for the law to change, an opinion he’s held for for years now, as shown in the linked New York Times op-ed he penned in November of 2014, where he admits having previously opposed the idea, but takes the approach of regulating and normalizing an act that is going on whether the law supports it or not. Silver’s interest has many facets, some published in the op-ed, and some not. For example: a clearer insight as to what’s influencing the league, and better regulation of the same. Also a never-mentioned healthy chunk of change for everyone who has a piece of the NBA pie.

Most reports estimate the overall impact of legalized sports betting to begin in the billions, with Forbes giving good reason to see it as a six (plus) billion dollar business in the next five years. A few bullish early prognosticators say it won’t be long before those numbers are in the hundreds of billions. Silver’s op-ed references figures in the ballpark of 400 billion. Dollars. Holy guacamole. We shall see what actually becomes reality, but big business, in any case.

Business-savvy pro franchise owners also see dollar signs, with Dallas Mavericks chief Mark Cuban estimating that his team’s overall worth doubled with the ruling. You’d have thought the Nets Mikhail Prokhorov would have heard this was a possibility. He’s also close to New Jersey, right?

So how soon is this happening? Most estimates say that New Jersey will be able to take bets in time for the NBA Finals, starting two weeks from today. Not ready yet? Too bad, as it’s already here already. Unsurprisingly, there’s a short list of states probably headed for the early second wave, with Colorado reported to be amongst them. Whether you see that as another financial boon or another step on the road to Gomorrah is completely up to you, but the moment is upon us soon. How funny is this? By the time Las Vegas actually fields their first professional sports franchise, a matter long awaited and debated due to it’s proximity to legalized gambling, it just won’t matter. Improbably, gambling went everywhere else first. (Correction from an astute reader below: Vegas had a pro hockey team on the ice prior to the ruling, and they are quite successful out of the gates. MO)

How does that impact your Denver Nuggets? What does this mean to their bottom (and top) line? What about the salary cap? The few professional opinions stating early estimates vary so widely as to make one not want to throw a number out just yet, but many estimate it could have a similar-or-slightly-lower lift than the recent bumps the league’s new TV deal ushered in. There were winners and losers amongst the league’s teams during that lift as well, as every organization saw the same lift out of the change. The desirability of the destination and the timing of the lift against the team’s cap needs were keys in the haves and have-nots: A sliding scale from those who saw huge benefit to those who just had to figure out a way to spend the cash. An impact this immediate might be of good timing for these Nuggets, right as a few financial decisions were coming due. This influx could quickly alleviate the cap pressure they were about to be feeling, or at least ameliorate it enough to make any early pain brief. It will be interesting to see where the numbers come in, and how each of the league’s teams handle a second chance at a windfall. It will be even more interesting to see this spread across sports as a whole, both in spending and in the influence it has upon the the integrity of the games.

And however it works out, the money will come. A report on this very topic by the four-letter network’s David Purdum and Darren Rovell states that Nevada sports bookermakers have not had a losing month against the fans in the last five-plus years. Let’s just say it’s a rarity. Multiply both sides of that equation and tack on nine zeroes.

Will bringing the act of gambling “into the light” alleviate any of the corruption or pressures to cheat that have occasionally marred sports over the years? History shows mixed results on the corruption front, based on the integrity of the people policing the rules. Odds are even better that the pressures to cheat will remain the same, as the people on all sides of that arrangement already knew they were doing the wrong thing. Legality wasn’t a part of their equation in the first place. On the upside, many major countries have instituted similar laws before the United States and have reported positive-to-neutral effect.

What say you, Nuggets Nation? Is this good for the Nuggets? For sports in general? For Colorado? Is that opinion based on your love of sport, your morals, your math, your... ? No matter where your opinion falls, the reality of this new wrinkle is immediately upon us.

Should you voice an opinion below, I’d only ask that you be respectful of those you disagree with.

Poll

How will legalized sports betting work out in the long haul?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    It’s great! I have a few bets to make!
    (25 votes)
  • 49%
    It’s a reasonable response. Might as well realize revenue from something that’s going to go on either way.
    (94 votes)
  • 21%
    An increased amount of money will only create a greater incentive to cheat for those who might.
    (40 votes)
  • 8%
    It’s just wrong, plain and simple.
    (17 votes)
  • 7%
    None of the above.
    (14 votes)
190 votes total Vote Now