Betting in Nevada sports books on UNLV and University of Nevada, Reno football games will still be illegal this fall - but the ban could be lifted in time for basketball season.
Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Brian Sandoval plans hearings in October and November on lifting the prohibition against wagering on Nevada teams, a regulation that dates back to the 1950s.
Sandoval wants to wait until Congress recesses to see if federal legislation is adopted to stop betting on all college games. That would make any action in Nevada moot.
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sam Brownback, R-Kan., are trying to push through legislation to outlaw betting on college sports. They tried last week but fell short of setting up a vote on the issue. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the bill won't get through this year.
Congress is in adjournment until September. After that the Senate has just five weeks of work time left. The anti-college betting bill could be reintroduced next year.
One of the arguments backers of the betting ban use is that Nevada regulations prohibit betting on local teams but the state allow wagering on teams across the country.
McCain and Brownback feel there's widespread betting by students on campuses nationally and this makes student athletes susceptible to the temptations of game-fixing. But Nevada protects its own athletes by not permitting betting on its teams, they say.
Sandoval intends to hold hearings in Carson City and Las Vegas on the regulation, which then could be adopted by the commission. By that time, the regular football season would be over.
He thinks that allowing betting on Nevada teams would actually increase the protection of athletes.
Currently, bettors can place wagers on Nevada teams through the Internet or illegal bookies. If wagering was legal, Sandoval said gambling regulators would be able to monitor the point spreads to see if there are any wide swings that would indicate possible game-fixing or point shaving.
Sandoval said the McCain-Brownback bill does nothing to curb the illegal betting in other states, and its only focus is on Nevada sports books.