Tags: nevada | legalize | olympics | betting

Nevada Gaming Board Recommends Legalizing Olympics Betting

Thursday, 12 Feb 2015 08:01 PM

The Nevada Gaming Control Board recommended that the state's gaming commission legalize gambling on the Olympics when it meets this month.

The proposal, brought by a group of Nevada casinos, was discussed today at a meeting in Carson City, Nevada, and was referred to the Nevada Gaming Commission.

Wagering would be legal in Nevada for "Olympic sporting or athletic events sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee, subject to limitation by the chairman or the chairman's designee in his sole and absolute discretion," under the language recommended to the commission, Marie Bell, the board's executive secretary, said in an e-mail.

The commission, which will meet Feb. 26, has the right to choose different language, such as allowing only gambling on events that don't involve judges.

Momentum has shifted in the U.S. toward a more receptive sports gambling environment. National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver has called for legalization of sports gambling, Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says it's time for a conversation on the issue to begin, and daily fantasy sports -- legal though in many ways similar to traditional sports gambling -- has become a multibillion dollar industry.

The move to include Olympic wagers, as is already allowed in places such as the U.K., is a logical next step, according to Jimmy Vaccaro, who runs the sports book at the South Point Casino.

'Reinvent Yourself'

"Like every industry, you've got to reinvent yourself," Vaccaro said in a phone interview. "As well as we do things here in Nevada, having done them for the past 50 years, we're still second. The rest of the world, we still need to catch up to them."

The U.S. Olympic Committee will examine whether the proposal affects its rights and obligations under the Ted Stevens Act, which established the USOC, its General Counsel, Chris McCleary, said in an e-mailed statement.

"We need to ensure that any such step does not threaten the integrity of Olympic sport," McCleary said.

Nevada sports books won a record $227 million in 2014, up from $203 million a year earlier, according to Gaming Control Board statistics. The total gambling win fell 1.1 percent, to about $11 billion from $11.1 billion.

Olympic bets were legal in Nevada decades ago, Vaccaro said. As part of the efforts of U.S. Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, to ban betting on amateur sports, an agreement was struck in 2001 to allow college sports gambling while banning wagers on other amateur sports such as the Olympics and Little League Baseball, according to USA Today.

Pro Rosters

Though the U.S. once used only amateurs to represent the country in the Olympics, professionals now dominate rosters.

Betting on the Olympics wouldn't approach the level of money spent on the Super Bowl or college basketball tournaments, though the Summer Olympics in particular would help keep visitors coming to the warm-weather state during a typically slow time of year, Vaccaro said. He declined to estimate exactly how much might be spent.

"We were busy the entire last year because of the World Cup in summer," Vaccaro said. "These are the things that make a difference."

Also up for discussion is whether to allow sports books to accept wagers on things such as Most Valuable Player votes at the Super Bowl, which also is prohibited, Vaccaro said. Approval of voted outcomes such as Super Bowl MVP could lead to the legalization of wagering on events such as the film industry's Academy Awards.

Election Voting

"One of the biggest events that the rest of the world books is our presidential elections, and we can't," Vaccaro said. "That's a huge, huge event."

The NBA's Silver said in September at the Bloomberg Sports Business Summit that legal sports gambling throughout the U.S. was "inevitable." He later wrote an op-ed on the topic for the New York Times. Baseball's Manfred this month told ESPN he would speak with team owners about the issue because of the changing landscape.

"At least they have to take a hard look, not a cursory look," Vaccaro said.

Vaccaro said the sports-betting environment, as evidenced by Silver's and Manfred's comments, is much different than it was a decade ago, and is poised for more change soon, even if not this month.

"The walls are crumbling at a bigger pace than it ever was," Vaccaro said.

 

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The Nevada Gaming Control Board recommended that the state's gaming commission legalize gambling on the Olympics when it meets this month.The proposal, brought by a group of Nevada casinos, was discussed today at a meeting in Carson City, Nevada, and was referred to the...
nevada, legalize, olympics, betting
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2015-01-12
Thursday, 12 Feb 2015 08:01 PM
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