One of the main reasons the NBA has been gung-ho for gambling and the NFL has not is that the NBA is trying to profit off gambling through the implementation of an “integrity fee.” The NBA’s position is that since the league is responsible for making sure bettors have a fair game to bet on, the league should get a percentage of the revenues from sports gambling.
The NFL is not pushing the integrity fee, and an issue that arose after the NBA Finals shows why that’s wise.
After the fourth and final game of the NBA Finals, Cleveland’s LeBron James addressed the media with a cast on his hand and revealed that he had played the last three games with a hand injury. That came as news to everyone, as there had been no disclosures from James, the Cavaliers or the NBA that James was hurt.
And that raises the question: If the NBA is insisting that it provides “integrity” to sports bettors, why didn’t the NBA disclose James’ injury to bettors? If the best player in the league is injured, that changes bettors’ decisions about who they should put money on. If bettors aren’t made aware of such significant information, where exactly is the “integrity” that the NBA is charging a fee for?
You wouldn’t play craps if you didn’t trust the casino to use fair dice, and you won’t bet on sports if you don’t think you’re betting on a fair game. It wasn’t fair to bettors who put money on Cleveland that they didn’t know Cleveland’s best player was hurt.
But the reality is, players are going to hide injuries. There’s no way around that. In every sport, players do their best to conceal from their opponents that they’re hurt. The NFL requires injury reporting in an attempt to prevent insiders from selling information about injuries to gamblers, but injury disclosures often fall short in the NFL, the NBA and every sport.
A sports league that is charging an “integrity fee” while hiding a major injury from bettors is opening itself up to a whole slew of problems that the NFL would prefer not to deal with.