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Las Vegas sports books favor nationwide betting

Updated June 27, 2017 - 9:16 pm

Las Vegas sports book directors reacted favorably Tuesday to the news that the Supreme Court will hear New Jersey’s case to allow legal sports betting.

The case could pave the way for legal sports betting across the country through a repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), a federal law that restricts legal sports betting to Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana. Nevada is the only state that allows single-game wagering.

“At this point, it’s sort of inevitable,” MGM Resorts sports book director Jay Rood said. “It will happen at some point, it’s just a matter of when.”

Wynn sports book director Johnny Avello said he expects to see legal sports gambling in other states within the next two years.

“It’s going to happen,” he said. “Five years ago, I would’ve said no. But we’ve definitely moved a lot closer to this happening.

“We’re continuously growing (at Wynn Resorts). We’re opening up a new property in Boston. It might be a good thing.”

Likewise, MGM Resorts operates properties in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Mississippi and Michigan, and welcomes the chance to offer sports wagering at those locations.

“It’s not a bad thing for us,” Rood said. “Since we’re a brand that’s beyond Las Vegas, we’re interested in it being allowed in other jurisdictions, especially the jurisdiction we currently reside (in New Jersey).”

Joe Asher, the CEO of William Hill US, which operates 108 of Nevada’s 196 sports books, also welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision.

“PASPA is a failed law and now is the time for all parties, including the sports leagues, to come together and replace it with a regulatory framework that will bring sports betting out of the shadows and into the sunlight, creating well over 100,000 jobs and raising billions in tax revenue,” he said in a statement.

Said Matthew Holt, vice-president of CG Technology sports books: “One thing regulated sports betting in the United States would provide is greater transparency and integrity and that’s a good thing for everybody.”

If sports gambling is legalized nationwide, Avello expects it to have a negligible effect on the betting handle in Las Vegas.

“I remember when Atlantic City opened up gambling and they said it was going to hurt Las Vegas. It didn’t. It actually made it even stronger,” he said. “People coming to town are going to play while they’re here and they’re going to bet while they’re home.

“I don’t know what impact there would be on Nevada. The town is so diversified now. We just offer a full menu of so many different things people come to town for, from gambling to great shows and food, parties, conventions and other amenities.”

Nine major operators run the vast majority of Nevada’s sports books. Ideally for the state’s gaming companies, a similar scenario will play out nationwide, where states will partner with them as satellite books.

“To have the hub be Las Vegas, that would be ideal. But I don’t know if it happens that way. Some states might elect to do their own thing,” Avello said. “Delaware had to go back to something it had done in the ’70s and offer football parlays only.

“(Nationwide legal sports betting) is something people have been looking at a long time. But it’s not like it’s guaranteed free money. You still have to have somebody running it who knows what they’re doing.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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