New NBA CBA Reportedly Allows Players to Invest in Sportsbook, Weed Companies

The NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) reportedly paves the way for players to invest in and promote sports wagering companies and firms with ties to cannabis production.

NBA Las Vegas
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. The leagues new CBA could allow players to invest in sports betting firms. (Image: NBA.com)

Shams Sharina, The Athletic’s NBA insider and himself a partner at FanDuel, broke the news Saturday. The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) acknowledged it and the league reached a “tentative” deal on new CBA framework, but did not elaborate on details.

Specific details will be made available once a term sheet is finalized,” according to a statement.

The new CBA pact must still be ratified by the players and owners.

Interesting Timing for Further Betting Embrace

While the league and its teams have marketing deals with various sportsbook operators and gaming companies, the move to allow players to invest in or promote such entities arrives as players are dealing with increasingly confrontational fans, vocalizing their disdain over players’ performances — in the bettors’ eyes — leading to lost wagers.

Last month, Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal was on the receiving end of some harsh words from a disgruntled fan at a game in Orlando. Beal gestured toward the fan and a police report was later filed. Florida doesn’t permit mobile sports wagering.

Currently, 33 states and Washington, DC permit some form of sports betting. Fifteen of the NBA’s 32 franchises are located in states and Washington, DC that allow sports wagering. Nine are based in California, Texas and Florida — none of which currently permit sports betting.

The league’s soon-to-expire CBA went into effect on July 1, 2017 — before the 2018 Supreme Court ruling on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). Since the fall of PAPSA, the NBA, like other leagues, and its teams widely embraced marketing agreements with gaming companies. However, current players haven’t directly participated in those benefits, though the current CBA didn’t explicitly bar players from investing in gaming corporations.

That 598-page document mentions “gambling” nine times and Article 35 of the league’s constitution contains provisions explicitly prohibiting players from wagering on NBA and G League contests.

Preparation Pays Off, Someone Could Be Irked

Speculation that the new CBA will allow plays to invest in and promote betting entities arrives about 10 months after Fanatics founder Michael Rubin announced the sales of his stakes in the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils in anticipation of the company broadening its sports betting reach.

In the wake of those transactions, speculation surfaced on social media Saturday that Rubin may among those irked by the aforementioned provision in the new CBA.

On the other hand, some current players already prepared for this day. For example, in 2020, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks — a two-time MVP — filed patents for a variety of trademarks linked to his “Greek Freak” nickname. Some of those patents could pertain to online wagering entities.

Kevin Durant of the Phoenix Suns, Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban are investors in Underdog Fantasy, but that company isn’t yet a sportsbook operator. Cuban and several other NBA governors were early investors in sports wagering companies such as DraftKings (NASDAQ: DKGN) and Sportradar (NASDAQ: SRAD).

NBA players have been precluded from such opportunities. The new CBA could put players on a level investment playing field with their bosses.

 

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