Vegas sacrifices Olympics bets for integrity

Aug 26, 2008 6:54 PM

On The Mark by Mark Mayer |

Imagine, gambling mixed with integrity. Such is the Las Vegas stance on the Olympics.

If you checked the overseas sites, where bets on the Olympics are legal, the USA (aka NBA)menís basketball team was a 21-point favorite in the gold medal game against Spain. USA won the gold by 11, but didnít cover.

You didnít see any action on that game or any other Olympic event in Las Vegas and probably never will. Once upon a time the Vegas books took bets on the Olympics only to find there wasnít much interest and quit.

"I donít think itís a good time to book the Olympic Games or amateur sports," said Mike Seba, an oddsmaker for the Las Vegas Sports Consultants, a company whose for the purpose is forming opening odds on sports events.

"Amateur sports has taken some hits as far as integrity and Las Vegas is the one place that does police anything that is not above board," Seba said. "This is the one gambling locale where I am not worried about corruption.

"Take the NBA referee scandal or the several incidents involving point-shaving at the University of Toledo. These are things that would immediately send a red flag up here," he said.

While Seba concedes betting basketball in the Olympics would not be a bad thing, he doubts it will happen.

"Itís back to the integrity thing," Seba said. "The fact that we have a Nevada Gaming Control Board that polices gambling shows that we care about protecting what we do and not wanting to do harm to amateur sports."

With all that said, if Vegas books believed betting on the Olympics would translate into big bucks, you could bet we would have it. So Michael Phelps and his eight gold medals will be just that, and not eight covers.