Be it for money or some crazy prop bet involving a cowboy hat and a can of whipped cream, gambling has always been a part of sports.
Famous athletes like Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan have even made names for themselves as casino high rollers, with the former once telling ESPN that he has won over $700,000 during a single weekend of playing blackjack.
Beyond the stars who take the occasional – and sometimes not-so-occasional – visit to the blackjack and poker tables, casinos have also grown to become a large part of the NBA. Although the league has stayed away from casinos for a large part of its existence, restrictions have loosened in recent years. In fact, NBA spokesman Michael Bass has told NJ.com that 28 of the league’s 30 teams have inked sponsorship deals with casinos.
The recent entry of online gaming to New Jersey has even led to the Philadelphia 76ers signing a deal with an online gaming entity. What’s next, the Orlando Magic partnering up with Alchemy Bet – a gaming company that operates the online casino site Pocket Fruity? Or would the Washington “Wizards” make for a better thematic fit?
The NBA and its teams have also embraced the concept of casino night. Before you get into a tizzy, casino nights aren’t all about playing craps and pouring money into slot machines. They’re more like fan parties and charity fundraising events wrapped in the allure and excitement of a casino atmosphere. A casino night is a chance for teams to give back to the community and let fans meet their hardcourt heroes at the same time.
The Los Angeles Lakers used their 2013 casino night event to raise money for the Lakers Youth Foundation. By all accounts the star-studded event was a success, raising a grand total of $200,000. The 2013 edition of the Atlanta Hawks’ annual casino night was also held to raise money for the Atlanta Hawks Foundation’s community programming and grant-giving initiatives. The Hawks have already started selling tickets for this year’s casino night. A pretty noble gesture, and a heck of a lot of fun, too.