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Equity-firm sports betting bill dies in Nevada

CARSON CITY — A bill that would have allowed private equity groups to place large bets at Nevada sports books appears dead this legislative session after it failed to get a vote Friday in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 346, sponsored by Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, had earlier passed the Senate on a unanimous vote with one abstention.

The legislation would have authorized the Nevada Gaming Commission to adopt rules to regulate “entity” bettors to position Nevada to capture some of the estimated $380 billion bet illegally on sports each year in the United States.

But Brower said Monday the proposal may now have to wait until the 2015 legislative session. The bill needed to see action by a Friday deadline for committee action on bills.

Brower said the bill ran into some trouble after Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett recently told the Assembly Judiciary Committee at a recent hearing that the measure posed serious regulatory concerns.

Those concerns were being addressed last week and it appeared that committee members questions were being answered, Brower said.

“Given the deadline, I’m not sure the concept is still alive,” he said. “Maybe we just didn’t have enough time to convince everybody it could work.

“We haven’t had a monopoly for a long time here in Nevada, so I think it is important we constantly look for new ways to attract gaming business,” Brower said.

Now, only individuals can wager at Nevada sports books. Nevada holds a monopoly on sports betting under a 1992 federal law.

Former Gaming Control Board Chairman Mark Lipparelli, who is a gaming industry consultant, supported the bill, saying it would be good for Nevada.

“The state should embrace this idea,” Lipparelli said in a statement issued earlier this session. “It will increase transparency, bolster competition and move at least one small element of the billions of dollars of illegal wagering out of the shadows. I have high confidence Nevada regulators will create a balanced framework that would address any concerns that could emerge.”

Nevada books now see a sports “handle,” or betting action, of $3.5 billion annually. Some observers estimated that amount could have tripled over five years if the bill had become law.

The bill had been amended to address concerns raised by state gambling regulators over the policing of such entities to guard against money laundering, underage gambling or illegal messenger betting.

All members, partners, shareholders, investors and customers of the equity group would have been required to register with the Gaming Control Board.

Another betting-related measure, Senate Bill 418, which would have allowed wagers on presidential and congressional elections, also failed to win approval from the Assembly Judiciary Committee after passing the Senate. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas.

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