Legal sports betting outside Nevada getting closer?

September 29, 2015 3:09 AM
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Legal sports betting outside Nev. getting close?The legalization of wide open sports betting is close to the moment when it will spill over Nevada’s state borders and spread across other states.

That’s the thinking of Florida sports attorney Daniel Wallach who has been following New Jersey’s so far unsuccessful efforts to open sportsbooks and the explosive evolution of fantasy wagering.

He cites the rising level of thoughtful conversation on the subject as one of the factors that will make a difference. Of course there would not be much talk if there was not a lot of money to be made. We can thank the blossoming love affair big business has with fantasy wagering for a lot of that attention-getting rhetoric.

It’s hard to turn to any sports-related television programming these days without spotting examples of the millions of dollars in advertising bought by companies such as DraftKings, which was the single biggest advertiser on TV during one recent week.

Since Aug. 1, DraftKings has spent well over $80 million on ads that have appeared 22,000 times. FanDuel has also spent millions hyping its brand of fantasy wagering.

This is the kind of presence that has people talking about fantasy wagering and the kind of wide open sports betting that is currently legal only in Nevada. It’s the kind of presence Wallach contends is driving things toward a change, whether the change involves real wagers or fantasy picks.

Wallach will be one of the speakers exploring sports wagering in its myriad forms during this week’s Global Gaming Expo.

Sports betting is a sure fire attention getter as the gaming business continues its sprawl across the globe in various forms, the appetites of all concerned being whetted by billions of dollars in consumer spending power and tax revenue.

Wallach believes the issue will eventually be decided in the federal court system and not Congress “because we’ll all be older men waiting for Congress to take action.” He borrows some weather forecasting metaphors as he considers his view of this evolution.

He envisions a “perfect storm” in the appeals court system, an event that will usher in new thinking, opening doors to expanded sports wagering.

New Jersey’s big push to install sports wagering in Atlantic City casinos has already been turned back twice in Third Circuit appeals with split 2-1 decisions and the state is looking for a rehearing before the full court – as opposed to a three-judge panel – and beyond that an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The chances are, he speculates, there will not be a further hearing unless there is action from another circuit creating a conflict that produces different perspectives.

Minnesota, he says, may be the state most likely to follow the path New Jersey has taken since the legislature there includes lawmakers who support efforts to topple the 1992 federal legislation that barred the expansion of state regulated sports wagering.

Varying takes on sports betting-related wagering represent the kind of “storm” involving state’s rights arguments are the best chance to encourage a review by the highest courts, Wallach said.

In the meantime, lawyers on either side of the fantasy wagering issue – is or isn’t it gambling? – are earning their fat fees and the major sports leagues are counting the dollar signs generated by the public’s fascination with fantasy wagering.

The avalanche of rhetoric began during recent years with Atlantic City doing nothing more than trying to add some spice to its troubled casino business.

The NFL of course remains opposed to standard sports betting but is in the meantime hyping its next games in London, a city where there are betting shops on every other corner.

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: PhilHevener@GamingToday.com.

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