Reid fights for Nevada gambling
With the introduction of a U.S. Senate bill calling for a ban on amateur sports betting, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid has countered with a bill of his own.
Reid spokesman Mark Schuermann said the Combating Illegal College and University Gambling Act was created to address the “real issue” of betting on college sports.
“It was a response in part (to the bill to ban amateur betting), but it still needed to be addressed,” Schuermann said. “The senator thinks banning college sports wagering is ill-conceived and does nothing to solve the problem of illegal bookies on college campuses.”
As the only state that allows betting on college games, Nevada’s gaming industry is the main target of Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback’s proposal to instigate a nationwide ban.
In coordination with the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Brownback has been putting together legislation to prohibit betting on all high school and college sporting events.
“Sen. Brownback feels it’s necessary to preserve the integrity of amateur athletics,” said Erik Hotmire, press secretary for the senator. “There is such a huge impact on kids who try to compete when lines are run. Our nation’s colleges are our greatest asset, but college betting is a black mark on them.”
When asked how Brownback felt his proposal would effect gaming states, Hotmire said studies have shown, “betting on college athletics is less than 1 percent of gambling revenues.”
Hotmire had no comment on Reid’s bill, other than say it fell short on several levels.
According to Las Vegas Sports Consultants, one of the largest firms to provide statistics to sports books in Nevada, football and basketball are the only two college sports on which wagers are made.
Senior oddsmaker Tony Sinisi said estimations from the 1999 fiscal year are never broken down between professional and college wagers because they are always reported in one lump sum. Similarly, the Nevada Gaming Commission does not receive a breakdown of percentages either.
For basketball, out of $525 million reported, Sinisi estimated the split as 60 percent professional, 40 percent amateur.
With football generating $937 million in revenue, Sinisi said the majority of bets were made on the NFL, resulting in a projection of a 75 to 25 percent split.
“It (the banning bill) would definitely be negative for Nevada and would have serious ramifications,” Sinisi said. “It would hurt a lot of businesses and would not be a positive thing.”
Gary Thompson, spokesperson for Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, agreed.
“It is a patently ridiculous attempt to restrict the gaming industry,” Thompson said. “The ban would cause people to go to illegal bookmakers.”
Thompson added that legal bookies “are the only people to discover point shaving in college ranks. If they see something suspicious in the way the lines are moving they contact the proper investigative agencies.”
As it stands now, both bills have been referred to judiciary committees for review.
“Both bills will go through the regular process,” Schuermann said. “We are confident Sen. Brownback’s bill will not move forward in Congress, but if it does, we will continue to focus our attention on illegal gambling.”
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