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Will Sports Betting Nationwide Kill The Industry In Nevada?

A landmark decision by the Supreme Court Monday opens the door for states to legalize sports betting across the country.

Until the high court made its decision, it was only legal in four states and just one of those four, Nevada, allowed single-game wagering.

But already more than a dozen states are getting sports betting regulations in place, modeled largely after Nevada's time-tested laws.

And Geoffrey Freeman, CEO and president of the American Gaming Association, a lobbying group formed in 1994, believes the "mainstreaming" of sports betting will entice more people to visit Las Vegas.

"The fact that people are now able to enjoy this product across the country, any concern or misperception or concern that used to be associated with the industry has been removed, it's really given people the permission to go to Las Vegas in record numbers," Freeman said. "I think that's going to be a winner for Las Vegas in the long run."

To contrarians who believe the increased competition will hurt Nevada--why visit Las Vegas when you can gamble in your home state--Freeman said those same worries came up with tribal gaming began expanded across the country.

"(But) each year Nevada, Las Vegas specifically, is earning record numbers of visitors," he added. "And we believe part of that is the mainstream nature of our industry."

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Chris Sieroty is the editor for Gambling Compliance and he agrees that it is unlikely that the ruling will end up hurting Nevada.

“Legal sports betting in other states I don’t think will have a big impact on Nevada because Nevada is a destination," he said.

He said people will continue to come to Las Vegas for big sporting events like the Super Bowl or March Madness.

Many states, besides New Jersey, are poised to start allowing sports books to open - some within a few months. But there are a lot of details that need to be worked out and one of the most contentious could be so-called integrity fees.

Some sports leagues are pushing the fees, insisting by paying them the fee they can make sure the games in their leagues are not rigged.

“If you want to bet on our games, run it through us so we can be the watchdogs of it and make sure there’s no funny business,” Mitch Moss with VISN explained.

Moss scoffs at the idea and calls the leagues "hypocritical." He pointed out that many teams put their thumbs on the scales for all kinds of advantages and the leagues let it happen. 

Moss said it is just a way for the leagues, who have been opposed to expanded sports betting for decades, to get a piece of the pie.

Gaming attorney Kate Lowenhar-Fisher agrees and said that the best people to keep an eye on whether the games are clean or not are the people who have been doing it for 40 years - Nevada bookmakers.

“They’re the ones who have been the best position to spot anomalous betting activity, anomalous player activity and those kinds of things and have historically done it and done it well,” she said.

And if states are not careful about how much they charge in fees and taxes on the new industry, gamblers will stick with their neighborhood bookies instead of switching to legal gambling.

Nick Bogdonvich with William Hill, which is one of the largest sports betting companies in the world, said sports betting is like any other market, if someone is charging less on the black market you will find people willing to buy.

“There will always be illegal bookmakers that is just the way it is and always will be but if we run these in other jurisdictions like we do in the state of Nevada you will definitely see a lot less bookmakers around than before – that’s for sure,” he said.

New Jersey said it will be ready to allow legal gambling on sports starting on Memorial Day. 

Guests

Chris Sieroty, Gambling Compliance; Kate Lowenhar-Fisher, Las Vegas gaming attorney; Mitch Moss, host, Vegas Stats and Information Network