Gaming Officials Urge Congress To Lift Ban On Sports Betting - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Gaming Officials Urge Congress To Lift Ban On Sports Betting

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Nevada is one of a handful of states where people can bet on sporting events, legally, but the American Gaming Association wants every state to have the ability to legalize it.  A Oxford Economics study estimates $150 billion are bet on sports each year, illegally.  $15 billion is illegally bet on the Super Bowl and Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament.

"Most entities in Nevada realize that Nevada has a monopoly in name only," Geoff Freeman, American Gaming Association President & CEO said. "With the Super Bowl and March Madness, 97 percent of the betting that takes place in this country is happening outside of Nevada."

AG Burnett is the Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board.  He says lifting the Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) could actually benefit Nevada, despite the theory that legalized betting would compete with established casinos.

"The casinos here in Nevada have become expert in really using sports betting to add to the mix of entertainment that they offer," Burnett said. "So, to tell you the truth, I would see it helping Nevada."

The AGA has a sports betting coalition that includes law enforcement, policymakers and other stakeholders that is focusing on four key areas. They include educating about the negative impacts of illegal gaming, advocating to repeal PASPA, empowering law enforcement with regulations, and offering fans a safe and legal way to gamble on games.

"Americans would prefer to play with regulated entities where there are guaranteed controls and guarantees that they'll get their money back when they put their money in," Freeman said.

Former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis is the AGA's Illegal Gambling Advisory.  He says unintended consequences have been created because of PASPA, including a link between illegal gambling and organized crime, including Whitey Bulger.

"They used their money from the gambling entrepreneurs to invest in a narcotics operation that became highly successful for them," Davis said. "So you can't underestimate the importance of cutting off that flow of regular income."

Experts admit, legalizing sports betting will not eliminate all illegal wagers, but it will cut down on them, substantially.

"When it's well-regulated, you reduce the chances of things like money laundering, you reduce the chances of (in sports betting) point-shaving scandals that have occurred," Burnett said.

"We believe an open, transparent, regulated market takes sports betting out of the shadows, making it easier for law enforcement to protect the public and choke off money flowing into criminal organizations," Freeman said.

The Oxford study estimates that legal sports wagering would create up to 152,000 jobs and $26 billion in economic output.  Tax revenue would also grow by $5 billion per year. Forty states have legalized gaming in some form.  Seven have introduced bills that would allow sports betting.

"The time is ripe for Congress to take a hard look at the law they passed, assess what has, and much more likely, what hasn't worked and come up with a different approach," Freeman said.

Experts say legalizing sports betting also protects the integrity of the games, and that professional sports leagues are getting more comfortable with the idea.  Las Vegas is the future home of the NFL's Raiders, and the NHL's Golden Knights.

"When your task as a regulator is to be strict and to ensure that everything is done above board and properly, I think it gets people comfortable and it helps legitimize the activity," Burnett said.

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