Gaming Control Board signs off on Olympic wagering regulation

14 February 2015

LAS VEGAS -- Nevada sports books will be able to accept wagers on the Olympics under a regulation recommended for approval by the Nevada State Gaming Control Board.

The proposal, to be considered by the Nevada State Gaming Commission later this month, would let bookmakers place betting lines on Olympic sporting or athletic events sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee. However, the control board chairman would have the authority to remove an event or contest from betting activity.

Gaming regulators unanimously signed off on the regulation Thursday in Carson City. The Gaming Commission will take it up on in Las Vegas on Feb. 26.

South Point Hotel Casino and Spa attorney Barry Lieberman said the regulation change was the sole option from a list of three approaches the Control Board could have considered. South Point spearheaded the move, which was also backed by William Hill U.S., CG Technology and other sports book operators.

Lieberman has called the bets “an enhancement of wagering in Nevada and increase the menu” of events that can be offered.

Last year, the Gaming Control Board announced an agreement with the International Olympic Committee to share information on Olympic betting to guard against illegal activity. The move lead to Nevada considering Olympics betting.

Olympic betting has been discouraged in the past because the games involved amateur athletes, but now professional athletes can also compete. The Gaming Commission also can alter the regulation to reduce cheating, including prohibiting wagers on events such as figure skating that are scored by judges.

However, Lieberman notes that bets are already accepted on boxing and Ultimate Fighting Championship events, where judges often determine the winner.

Sports book operators asked regulators to let them choose the events for betting lines.

Sports wagering has been growing in Nevada. The amount bet on sports by Nevada casino customers has increased annually in each of the five previous years. In 2014, gamblers wagered $3.9 billion on sports, an increase of 7.7 percent over 2013.

Casinos collected gaming revenue of $227 million in 2014, an increase of 11.8 percent over 2013 and an all-time record.

Analysts credit technology, such as mobile sports wagering applications for smart phones and tablet computers, and in-game wagering, which allows customers to bet on games in progress.

In December, gamblers placed $427.3 million in wagers on sports, which was a record for that particular month. In November, gamblers wagered a single-month record $535 million on sports.

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