Gaming association: Odds in favor of nationwide legalized sports betting |

Gaming association: Odds in favor of nationwide legalized sports betting

Geoff Dornan

Total gaming revenue in 2017 was $11.1 billion, up 3.3 percent, or $349.2 million, in Nevada.

With the Supreme Court poised to take up the issue, the American Gaming Association sees legal sports betting coming to all states that want it.

"It doesn't make sense for the Supreme Court to take it up in the first place unless they were going to overturn (the ban)," said AGA spokesman Caleb Randall-Bodman.

He pointed out sports betting is already legal in Nevada which has operated sports books for decades. But he said 14 states are looking at legislation that would legalize sports betting in some form.

AGA officials including President Geoff Freeman say the federal ban on legal books in every state except Nevada needs to go away. Until it does, he said, Americans will continue to send billions of dollars to "corner bookies, shady offshore operators and other criminal enterprises."

He said it's time governments, sports leagues and the gaming industry put the illegal bookies out of business.

The National Basketball Association has dropped its adamant opposition to betting and joined the gaming industry in supporting elimination of that ban. But Bodman said the NBA's call for government to order gamblers to pay the league 1 percent off the top in taxes "doesn't make sense." He said the industry's profit margin is slim, just 3 to 5 percent.

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"If you take 1 percent off the top, that completely obliterates any profitability," he said.

He said the argument they need the tax, "to prevent integrity issues" is false.

"It's going to incentivize folks to stay in the illegal market," he said.

AGA officials say illegal sports betting in the U.S. is a $150 billion a year business. AGA analysts said they expected $4.76 billion to be bet on the recent Super Bowl, including $138.5 million bet legally in Nevada. Unaudited results of this year's wagering on the game indicated the 198 licensed sports books in Nevada won just $1,170,432 on wagers totaling $158,586,934.

The Supreme Court case Christie v. NCAA is seeking to have the Amateur Sports Betting Act that bars betting everywhere except Nevada declared unconstitutional. According to Bodman, AGA lawyers think the odds are strong the high court will do just that.