The Gaming Control Board will consider a regulation change next month that would allow Nevada sports books to accept wagers on the Olympics.
The only question is whether or not the betting would be allowed on all Summer and Winter Olympics events, or just a handful of popular competitions.
During an hourlong workshop Thursday to discuss the idea — initially proposed by South Point casino owner Michael Gaughan — there was clearly widespread support for the activity from the gaming industry.
Sports book operators CG Technology, William Hill US and the Westgate Las Vegas all submitted letters of support for the idea.
South Point attorney Barry Lieberman said allowing bets on the Olympics would be “an enhancement of wagering in Nevada and increase the menu” of events that can be offered.
In November, gamblers wagered $535 million in Nevada, which included $400.7 million on college and professional football. Both numbers were all-time single month records.
Gaming analysts have attributed technology, such as mobile sports wagering and rules that allow wagers on games in progress, with increasing the state’s betting handle.
Lieberman said allowing bets on the Olympics would put Nevada on par with other legal sports wagering jurisdictions around the world. For example, he said the United Kingdom’s betting shops all accepted wagers on the 2012 London Summer Olympics Games.
CG Technology General Counsel Quinton Singleton told the Control Board $80 million was wagered during the London games.
“This would be good for the state,” Lieberman said. “It would increase taxation. It would keep Nevada competitive with other jurisdictions.”
Gaming Control Board members questioned if it was feasible to book wagers on all Olympics events.
Wynn Resorts sports book operator Johnny Avello said the gaming industry tried accepting wagers on the Olympics back in the 1990s, and some of the events “didn’t help business.” Avello said the most interest would be found from basketball, hockey, soccer and other events where “there was a floor or a court.”
Along with the Olympics, sports books are also seeking a change that could allow bets on nonsporting events such as the Academy Awards or reality competition television shows such as “The Voice” and “American Idol.”
Nevada does not allow casinos to accept wagers on the Academy Awards or other similar events because the outcome is known before it is actually released. Many sports books put up betting lines solely for entertainment value.
Olympics betting was discouraged in the past because the games involved amateur athletes. In recent summer and winter games, professional athletes have competed.
Lieberman said events such as figure skating, where the outcome is determined by judges, are similar to boxing and Ultimate Fighting Championship events, where judges often determine the winners.
Lieberman asked that in the final ruling, the Control Board allow sports book operators to decide on which events they want to place betting lines.
Last year, the Gaming Control Board announced an agreement with the International Olympics Committee to share information on Olympics betting to protect against illegal wagering
The move set in place the idea for Nevada to consider Olympics betting.
Contact reporter Howard Stutz at email@example.com or 702-477-3871. Find him on Twitter: @howardstutz