MLS Commissioner Backs Legalized Sports Betting

Major League Soccer’s Commissioner Don Garber (l.) called legalized sports betting in the U.S. and “inevitability” and said he’s league could be at the forefront of a change. The remarks come as the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear New Jersey’s challenge to a federal prohibition on sports betting.

Saying that legalized sports betting is an “inevitability” in the U.S., Don Garber, commissioner of Major League Soccer, said he would like to see his league be at the forefront of expanding the industry.

Garber was speaking at a Yahoo Finance event and said that sports betting is already popular worldwide, especially where it concerns soccer.

 “Gambling on games, betting on games, is part of the DNA of football around the world,” he said. “I am a big proponent that it’s going to happen. We might as well be in front of it. I think there are great values to our tax revenues to be able to do that. I don’t think we can stop it, so maybe we’d even lead the charge.”

In his comments, Garber joins NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in expressing support for legal sports betting in the U.S.

Still, the NBA is part of a challenge to New Jersey’s efforts to allow sports betting in the state. The MLS is not opposing the move. New Jersey’s appeal of lower court rulings against it is schedule to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in December.

New Jersey is challenging the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which outlawed sports betting in all but four grandfathered states—including Nevada. The four largest US sports leagues—the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL—along with the NCAA have opposed the state’s moves to allow sports betting.

If New Jersey prevails and the court strikes down PASPA, Garber said his league could be a leader in sports betting.

“One of the only values of being the youngest major league here, and sometimes being under the radar… is I think it gives us the opportunity to push the envelope on a number of different things,” Garber said. “I do believe that we could lead this effort, because I don’t know that everybody will see soccer as having the same challenges that perhaps would exist if the NFL was going to come out in support of it.”