Private equity sports betting advances in Nevada

Private equity groups could soon place large bets at Nevada sports books and pump millions of dollars into the legal sports betting trough under a bill advanced Friday by a state Senate committee.

The Senate Judiciary Committee amended and approved SB346, which authorizes the Nevada Gaming Commission to adopt rules to regulate “entity” bettors.

Under existing law, only individuals can place wagers at Nevada sports books.

Nevada holds a monopoly on sports betting under a 1992 federal law. But supporters of the bill say it would position Nevada to capture some of the estimated $380 billion bet illegally on sports each year in the U.S.

Nevada books currently see a “handle” — or betting action — of $3.5 billion in sports betting annually. Some experts estimate that could triple over five years if the bill becomes law.

The bill was amended to address concerns raised by state gambling regulators over policing entities to guard against money laundering, underage gambling or illegal “messenger” betting, whereby someone gets paid to place a bet for someone else.

All members, partners, shareholders, investors and customers of the equity group would be required to register with the Gaming Control Board. The groups also would have to be located and operate in Nevada.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, now moves to the full Senate.

Another bill sponsored by Judiciary Chairman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, to allow betting on the outcome of federal elections also passed the committee.

But the committee punted on a bill sought by the powerful Nevada Resort Association to limit the spread of sports betting kiosks at bars, taverns and restaurants that have restricted gambling licenses.

Nevada’s large resorts argued the kiosks cross the line from slot and video poker machines and enter a realm of sports books reserved for big casinos that hold unrestricted gambling licenses.

While some committee members wanted to vote on the bill, Segerblom refused and instead sent the bill to the Senate Finance Committee with an amendment seeking an interim study on the tussle between Nevada’s big gambling players and their smaller, restricted competition.

“Is there an appetite to pass this without the study?” asked Sen. Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas.

“There is no appetite for that.” Segerblom replied. “I am full.”


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