Nevada Bookmakers Pushing for Legalization of Betting on Olympic Games

The next summer and winter Olympics is still a year away, but a group of Nevada-based bookmakers is hoping that state regulators will grant their petition for allowing Olympic Games betting. As it is, wagering on Olympic matches is an exception to the sports betting activities allowed in Nevada. According to the Vice President of Risk Management at CG Technology, the existing rules that exclude Olympic gaming, gives Nevada a competitive weakness. He explained that most visitors, particularly those originating from other countries, are surprised to learn that Olympic betting is not available in the Silver State.

In 2001, Senator John McCain introduced a bill that aimed to closedown betting activities on amateur sports, which originally included college sports. The final legislative amendment enacted as part of the Nevada Gaming regulation is a stipulation that prohibits wagers on any non-collegiate amateur sport or athletic event, which includes the Olympic Games. Betting on college sports therefore remained available under Nevada’s sports gambling law.

The sports book group, lobbying for the removal of the Olympic sporting events from the amateur non-collegiate sports prohibition, asserts that developments that transpired through the years demonstrate that Olympic Games are no longer viewed as competitions among amateurs. The group cited as examples the inclusion of professional players as official members of Olympic teams, who at the same time play professionally in their respective field. Quinton Singleton, Legal Counsel to CG Technology specifically mentions NBA’s LeBron James and NHL’s Sidney Crosby.

The CG Technology Legal Counsel added that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) supports Olympic wagering, since the committee recognizes the fact that gambling on sports matches fuel the interests of fans. Nonetheless, he asserts that the IOC keeps a close watch over the gambling industry and the related sports wagering activities as protection against corruption. The IOC is known to collaborate with more than 20 sports book operators and gambling regulators from across the globe, by way of a monitoring program in which betting companies immediately report any betting patterns deemed as suspicious.

Gaming expert and Whittier Law School professor, I. Nelson Rose, comments that the IOC simply puts up with legalized sports gambling, presumably, because it considers the unregulated market as a greater evil. He said that the committee’s support of legalized gambling does not necessarily mean IOC likes it but only because it is well aware that Olympic betting is bound to take place in some areas, and that there is nothing they can do to prevent it from happening.

The Olympic sports betting lobbyists will be holding a workshop this month involving a number of key personalities in the gambling industry, and with the Nevada Gaming officials in attendance. The workshop provides a venue for discussion and exchange of ideas, before submitting the final proposal to the Nevada Gambling Commission for approval.

The Summer Olympic betting highlights would be basketball and hockey for the Winter Olympic. Although betting on Olympic big names such as Usain Bolt for track events and Michael Phelps for swimming competitions, as well as the prominent names in figure skating, are likewise regarded as great attractions. Still, there is no clear indication as to how many and which sporting events will be allowed, but proponents are hoping to secure a timely state approval, hopefully before the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

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