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Stone-Cold Lock? Bill To Register Sports Handicappers Moving Through Senate

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(AP Photo/John Locher)

Prop bets for Super Bowl LIII are on display before the start of the game at the Westgate Superbook sports book, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Las Vegas.

Five-star, stone-cold locks!

Can’t-Miss NFL game of the week!

If you listen to sports radio, or go online, these are the types of advertisements some sports handicappers put out there.

Is it buyer beware? Or should these bettors, like people who bet on the stock market, be regulated in some way?

A bill to require handicappers to register with the state is making its way through the Legislature.

State Senator Keith Pickard is behind the bill. He told KNPR's State of Nevada that the bill was created after the Supreme Court decision last year that allowed states to decide if they wanted to allow sports betting.

Pickard said states that allow gaming wanted to make sure they regulated aspects of the emerging sports betting industry, instead of allowing the federal government to have a say.

“We wanted to make sure they’re brought within the regulatory scheme," he said, "So that we could say to the feds we’ve got this covered, you don’t need to step into this area.”

JD Sharp is a professional handicapper. He runs what is known as an entity gaming service. It is much like a stock fund but instead of betting on stocks, he bets on sports.

“Sports handicappers offer a standard ‘tout’ if you will, offers picks for a price,” he explained.

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Some of those services will claim they have the "lock" or the "guarantee" bet to make.

“To me, that’s crazy,” Sharp said, “Because 90 percent of sports betting is money management just like anything else and anything can happen in a game.”

He said the very best handicappers are 56 percent to 58 percent accurate and anyone claiming 60 percent or more is crazy.

Sharp said one of the worst places for people committing fraud is Twitter.

“Twitter is the wild, wild west, especially of handicapping,” he said.

People will post manipulated pictures of their record on the social media site or post predictions for games that have already started.

Pickard said it is that kind of fraud that his bill aims to address.

“It provides us with the ability to… identify who’s out there and making sure everybody is on the up and up,” he said.

Brett Smiley is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Sports Handle. He agreed that there are bad actors in the handicapping and touting industry from people who send out picks for bets that can't be made, like saying 'take the Giants at +6' when no sports book is offering the Giants at +6; to sending out opposite picks to two groups of subscribers so it looks like he knows how to pick winners.

“People are paying for what they believe is honest advice and given the couple of examples that I just gave that’s not at all what they’re getting – in some cases,” he said.

However, Smiley said Pickard's bill may not be workable.

“I think this is a bill that is good in theory and possibly impossible to be enforced," he said.

For one thing, Smiley said the definitions of what is a payment and what is a transaction are not clear.  And he's concerned about handicappers in other states like New Jersey and what rules might apply to them.

Pickard agreed that there are some parts of the bill that need some work and he is working with lawmakers from other states that allow gambling to make sure the rules apply everywhere.

 

Guests

State Sen. Keith Pickard; Jason Sharp, professional handicapper; Brett Smiley, editor-in-chief/co-founder, Sports Handle

 

 

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