NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reiterated a point in a recent TV interview that he famously made in a New York Times op-ed in 2014. Sports gambling, currently illegal in the United States, should be brought into the light.

For the sizable demographic of people who oppose legalization of sports betting, just keep in mind that its prohibition continues to be one of the worst jokes in American sports. According to the American Gaming Association, U.S. residents bet an estimated $4.2 billion on Super Bowl 50. Of that astronomical number, 97 percent was wagered illegally. This means that an overwhelming majority of Americans are forced into a murky world of unregulated gambling.

In many cases, this is harmless. After all, even the President gambles. Still, the entirely unregulated nature of the market is inherently a terrible system. It leads to the creation of an entire subculture of sketchy bookies.

And, as has become infinitely clear in recent months with daily fantasy sports, the mere tacit approval of sports gambling isn’t good enough.

The problem for companies like DraftKings and FanDuel is that they’re legally required to deny being a form of gambling. Any admission to this would be ruinous, because it would be an implied violation of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (or PASPA), which outlawed sports betting in all but a few states (like Nevada) where legalization of specific practices was grandfathered in.

Are daily fantasy sports exactly like traditional gambling? No, of course not. But they are a form of gambling. And, as Massachusetts will soon showcase, the industry can be successfully regulated. In fact, it’s to their advantage to be regulated since it will help to erase questions of transparency and legitimacy.

More than that, a legalization of sports gambling would prevent the potential demise of daily fantasy (currently under legal fire in several states). People love daily fantasy and the industry most definitely should not be shut down.

Yet by having to deny being a form of gambling, which is plainly obvious, daily fantasy companies appear insincere. It leads them to being portrayed as ignoring reality. The fact is that they undoubtedly recognize their own status. We’ve seen this fact manifest itself in indirect ways, such as a DraftKings founder explaining the concept of daily fantasy using terms like “bet” and “casino” in a Reddit AMA. Again, they will deny this, but it’s only because they have no choice from a legal perspective.

The solution seems to be an obvious one, though the path to achieving it appears an arduous journey. Repealing PASPA and enabling states (should they choose) to legalize and regulate sports gambling is the long term fix.

Exactly how that happens doesn’t seem to be a realistic goal in the short term, given the glacial pace of the U.S. Congress. Nonetheless, legalization has never made more sense. The total amount of money wagered illegally continues to skyrocket, while a lack of regulation has made the unpreventable wagering an even more difficult area to police.

Fundamentally, this makes sense. Though it’s not likely to get done any time soon, the extent to which legalized, regulated sports betting makes sense can’t be understated. Think about the sheer volume of funds changing hands in what is illegal gambling right now. More than 47 million Americans annually flout the law. If your vote was cast by whether or not you gamble on sports, the issue would already be settled.

Source: Just Legalize Sports Gambling Already