LAS VEGAS — The Wynn Las Vegas on Wednesday became the first Sin City casino to take event wagers on a non-sporting event, with bets on the World Series of Poker main event.
The wagers are the first to be approved by state regulators since new rules in January made them allowable, Nevada Gaming Control Board Enforcement Chief Jerry Markling told The Associated Press.
“There have been inquiries made, but none that got to this point,” Markling said.
The bets add a new wrinkle around poker’s most prestigious tournament, being held roughly 2 miles from the Wynn at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, with the possibility of entrants betting on themselves.
The $10,000 buy-in no-limit Texas Hold ’em main event begins Thursday. It’s expected to attract thousands of players and be worth millions to the winner. Canadian professional Jonathan Duhamel won the tournament last year, beating 7,318 opponents to win $8.94 million.
Wynn Race and Sports Director Johnny Avello told the AP that regulators approved the wagers on Tuesday after more than one month of work, to satisfy that the event is legitimate enough to prevent players from having a significant edge on bets.
“This just opens the door to do a lot of things,” Avello said.
For the series’ main event, the Wynn has begun accepting bets like whether a woman will finish higher than 40th in the male dominated tournament, and whether poker legends Johnny Chan, Allen Cunningham or Erik Seidel will win money in the event.
Avello said the bets were popular on Wednesday, and that he’d accept up to $10,000 wagers — enough to make money but not enough to make it reasonable for a player to throw the tournament given its pricey entry fee.
The new bets follow new Nevada gambling regulations passed this year that open casinos up to the possibility of bets on things like the Academy Awards, beauty pageants and reality television shows — if wagers can win approval under strict rules.
Markling said he expects more applications, but had none pending. He said a casino inquired earlier this year about possible bets on Fox’s hit singing competition, “American Idol,” but regulators didn’t have enough time to research the competition to approve wagering.
Casinos outside the United States are well known for allowing gamblers to bet on just about anything they can think of, including elections, weather patterns and the color of clothing worn by famous people during big news events. But Nevada laws are stricter in that they don’t allow bets on things that can easily be controlled by one or a few people, or on outcomes that can be known in advance.
Avello said the wagers open up casinos to more bets, but don’t open the floodgates for gamblers to bet on anything. He said the Oscars might have a shot next year if the casino closes bets once voting ends by academy members.
“This just adds more to the menu,” he said.
He said if the poker bets go well, he imagines strong betting on the main event’s final table, which will be played in November by nine finalists.
Oskar Garcia can be reached at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia.