weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Would competition from California sportsbooks hurt Nevada?

If California were to legalize sports wagering, Nevada sportsbooks would get crushed by the competition, right?

Not necessarily.

That’s the view of two veteran sportsbook operators I talked with after a coalition of 18 California Indian tribes announced they are working to get a statewide ballot referendum on next November’s ballot to allow on-site sports betting at tribal casinos and at several California racetracks.

Jay Kornegay, president and general manager of the Westgate sportsbook, believes Nevada would survive potential competition from the Golden State because of two key provisions within the referendum proposal — that bets would have to be made in person at a casino or track betting window, not through a mobile app, and that bets on any games involving California colleges and universities would be prohibited.

USBookmaking President Vic Salerno is even more confident, saying the California proposal would have no effect in Nevada because he knows Californians make their way to Las Vegas, Reno and Lake Tahoe for the complete experience and not just to bet on sports.

Kornegay and Salerno agree that the measure California voters will see is leaving openings for Nevada to exploit. The tribes are apparently attempting to make the sports-betting proposal more palatable to those who are on the fence about whether to allow a new wave of wagering in the state.

Not having mobile wagering is a way to get customers to enter casinos and tracks on a regular basis, while the ban on betting on California schools is designed to make the uninformed feel good that USC, UCLA, Stanford and others aren’t going to be corrupted by gambling.

The absence of mobile wagering will certainly affect how much tax revenue California could collect. New Jersey, which has the nation’s most liberal mobile sports wagering rules (participants can sign up to play without going to the casino company to verify information), sees about 80 percent of its sports bets on apps. At a gaming conference last summer, a panel of experts predicted that would rise to 90 percent within 10 years as players get more comfortable with the technology and ease of use.

While Californians still won’t be able to bet with Nevada apps unless they’re within the state’s borders, they still sign up to play via mobile means because they can make a bet, do something else while the game is played and still collect winnings before they go home.

Salerno admitted he’s not that familiar with the locations of tribal casinos, but like a lot of places in Southern California, it takes effort to get wherever they are because of traffic.

The California school ban may be the bigger deterrent to a successful rollout because the people who live there are invested fans in their respective programs. Kornegay said the ban could be reversed once the public becomes more educated about the role sportsbooks play in spotting corruption. Both Kornegay and Salerno fear the ban could drive some California bettors to illegal offshore sites.

New Jersey has a similar ban on its schools and already is considering lifting it (which could result in a rush of bets against the perpetually losing Rutgers football team). In Ohio’s sports wagering proposals, a ban on bets involving that state’s schools is under consideration.

Before 2001, Nevada sportsbooks kept UNLV and University of Nevada, Reno games off the board. When Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., proposed making it illegal for casinos to take bets on all schools and universities that year, the result was a removal of the ban. McCain had been aggravated that Nevada sportsbooks spotted betting irregularities involving the Arizona State University basketball team in 1994 and notified the NCAA.

McCain pointed out at the time that it was hypocritical for Nevada casinos not to take bets on Rebel and Wolf Pack games. But instead of having books take all college sports off the board, as he had hoped, Nevada regulators struck down the ban on betting on UNLV and UNR.

Kornegay said that once Californians understand that books are watching out for their own financial interests by reporting betting irregularities and that the integrity of sports betting is stronger as a result, he expects they’ll ease up on the ban against betting on California schools.

And that’s when Nevada may have to start worrying about competition from California.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
Opening ceremony of the first Chick-fil-A restaurant inside a casino
Opening ceremony of the first Chick-fil-A restaurant inside a casino at the Golden Nugget on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Fire damages 7 cars at Las Vegas airport parking garage - VIDEO
Firefighters on Saturday morning extinguished a car blaze that damaged six other vehicles in a parking garage at McCarran International Airport. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Changes Everything: Grandma - LVCVA ad
"Grandma" is a new television spot from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority prepared to entice visitors to come during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. (Visit Las Vegas/YouTube)
Vegas Changes Everything: Chaos - LVCVA ad
"Chaos" is a new television spot from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority prepared to entice visitors to come during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. (Visit Las Vegas/YouTube)
New allegations involved Steve, Elaine Wynn - VIDEO
The new allegations were presented Friday in a motion that included a 2018 affidavit, alleging former hairstylist Jorgen Nielsen tried to convince a friend to say Steve Wynn raped her and that she bore his son. The affidavit also included new allegations suggesting Elaine Wynn and Nielson orchestrated the assault scandal. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fitness chain Life Time acquires former Sullivan Square site
Fitness chain Life Time has acquired the former Sullivan Square site in Las Vegas for $14 million. The southwest valley property, across the street from Ikea, is little more than a giant hole in the ground. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas in Primm outlet mall changing its name - VIDEO
Chad Dillow, co-owner of Step Right Up, is building his attraction at Prizm Outlets, which recently changed it name from Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas, in Primm. It will include 3D trick art, ax throwing, escape rooms and carnival-themed games. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
O.J. Simpson files lawsuit against The Cosmopolitan over TMZ story - VIDEO
A lawsuit filed Thursday alleges that The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas defamed O.J. Simpson when hotel employees told TMZ he was kicked out of the casino “for belligerence” in November 2017. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Phil Maloof on selling his Palms Place penthouse.
Phil Maloof sold his 59th-floor penthouse at Palms Place. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bleutech announces Las Vegas land purchase deal
Bleutech Park Properties reached a purchase agreement for 210 acres at Las Vegas Boulevard and Cactus Avenue, project spokesman Tom Letizia announced Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019 at a news conference at the M Resort. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stolen Dodge Challenger found, suspect arrested - VIDEO
A $250,000 custom-built Dodge Challenger was stolen on Oct. 30, 2019, just before it was to be displayed at the Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show in Las Vegas this week. The thief was found by an Nevada Highway Patrol trooper, who rammed the trooper's car with the Challenger and got away. The suspect was ultimately arrested and the car recovered. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terbine's, a tech firm, decision to relocate business from Bay Area to Las Vegas
Terbine's, a tech firm, decision to relocate business from Bay Area to Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
A walk through the historic Huntridge Theater in Las Vegas - VIDEO
The Huntridge Theater became a musical venue in 1992 and was a staging ground for groups on the rise and alternative superstars, from Smashing Pumpkins to Sarah McLachlan, the Deftones, Nine Inch Nails, Green Day and Fugazi. The venue has been closed since 2004. This video, taken on Oct. 31, 2019, shows what's left of the theater after 15 years. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International looking to sell another property
MGM Resorts International is working to sell its MGM Grand property on the Las Vegas Strip. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Developer Sam Cherry reveals plans for shareDOWNTOWN.
Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Councilwoman Olivia Diaz will attend this event where plans are revealed for a future apartment complex in the Arts District. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion update - VIDEO
Take a drive outside of the new Las Vegas Convention Center expansion project. (Severiano Galvan/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Binion's debuts a spinning bar overlooking Fremont Street Experience - VIDEO
Binion's debuted its spinning bar inside the Whiskey Licker Up Saloon. The Rotating bar only goes at one full rotation per 15 minutes overlooking the Fremont Street Experience. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Day 3 of the 2019 Global Gaming Expo
Day 3 of the 2019 Global Gaming Expo took place at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Southern Nevada could set a new resale-price record in coming months.
The median sales price of previously owned single-family homes – the bulk of the market – was $310,000 in September. Before the economy crashed last decade, prices peaked in June 2006 at $315,000, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.(Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Walmart container park in Henderson - VIDEO
Henderson could be home to a container park associated with a Walmart Inc. initiative. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Resorts World construction update - Video
Resorts World Las Vegas continues its construction on the Las Vegas Strip. Review-Journal studio host Aaron Drawhorn and business reporter Rick Velotta go over the newest updates in the construction. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Recession lessons could help Las Vegas face next slump - VIDEO
While the last economic downturn had a dramatic impact on local casinos, most experts expect the industry will be better able to weather the storm during the next recession. (Mat Luschek / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
St. Rose Parkway Construction - Video
St. Rose Parkway continues to have construction along the six-and-a-half mile road. Review-Journal studio host Aaron Drawhorn and business reporter Eli Segall go over the construction projects that are coming to Henderson.
MGM and victims of Oct. 1 reach settlement agreement - VIDEO
MGM Resorts International and lawyers representing potentially thousands of victims of the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip have reached a tentative settlement of between $735 million and $800 million. (Mat Luschek /Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Live music and EDM dominate the night on day 2 of A’Le’Innstock
After sunset bands rocked the crowds at A’Le’Innstock in Rachel, Nevada on the second night of the event.
iPhone 11 Release
Local Las Vegas long time Apple product consumer shares her excitement for the new iPhone 11 release Downtown Summerlin. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lihi Levin talks about a mobil app Dropit - VIDEO
Lihi Levin, regional manager at Dropit Shopping, talks about a mobil app Dropit. The app lets customers leave their shopping bags at a store then have them delivered the same day to their home or hotel so they can shop without carrying multiple bags all day. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
North Las Vegas company prepares for Mars - VIDEO
Robert Bigelow and his Bigelow Aerospace manufacturing facility played host to eight NASA astronauts and 60 engineers this week getting to know the company’s B330 autonomous, expandable space station. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)