Time to rescind Nevada's ban on Olympic betting

Feb 18, 2014 3:00 AM

It’s time to rescind Nevada’s ban on Olympic betting.

The reason you can’t go into your favorite Nevada sports book and make a bet on the Olympics is Regulation 22.120-1(a) that states no wagers may be taken on “any amateur non-collegiate or athletic event.”

Amateur? Seriously?

It’s pretty easy to be cynical, so I don’t want to just pick the low hanging fruit. Who am I kidding? Yes I do!

Are they nuts? Who is an amateur? I am looking at the hockey rosters. The U.S. and Canada teams are made entirely of NHL players. Russia is primarily made up of NHL players along with a few from their own professional league, the KHL.

Fourteen NHL players are from Slovakia and all of them are on their Olympic roster. Slovenia has the captain of the Los Angeles Kings’ Stanley Cup winning team from two years back, Anze Kopitar. Both of Finland’s goaltenders, Antti Niemi and Tuukka Rask, have their names etched on Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Sweden is comprised almost entirely of NHL veterans. The Czech Republic is so deep it was able to keep six current NHL players off its roster in favor of players from its own pro league. Switzerland has eight from the NHL, Austria three, Norway one and Latvia has one current and one former NHLer.

Yes, virtually every non-NHL player is from another pro league in Europe or North America.

Is snowboarder Shaun White an amateur? I think he’s taking in some pretty good dough. If he ever wanted to switch bank accounts, I would accommodate him in a Nano-second. The same goes for Bode Miller and Shani Davis.

Basketball will be even more obvious when they play in two years. Is there a country in the developed world that doesn’t have professional basketball? Every Olympic basketball team in 2016 will be entirely professional, just like hockey.

Some of the minor sports might not have the professional presence of hockey or basketball. That makes it much tougher to handicap, but that should be up to individual sports books to decide for themselves if they want to take action or not. They are legitimate sporting events that garner interest around the world.

For those of you who don’t know, the ban on Olympic betting has a strange genesis. In the early part of this millennium Arizona Senator John McCain had introduced a bill to disallow betting on any college sports. The bill gained quite a bit of momentum.

Every sports book in Nevada had a bad, though legitimate, feeling Congress would actually get this done. And they wonder why their approval rating is lower than cockroaches. (That’s not a joke.)

Meanwhile Nevada was called out for hypocrisy for not allowing any betting on UNLV or Nevada-Reno. Essentially, Nevada was embarrassed into removing the ban on our in-state schools. As they removed that ban, they implemented a ban on Olympic and high school betting.

The successful fight to retain our autonomy was led by our current governor Brian Sandoval, who was Gaming Commission Chairman at the time. I’ll always cheer him for that.

Maybe Sandoval needed to authorize the ban on Olympic betting as a bargaining chip. He certainly knows the political game much better than I.

Now the time has come to remove it.

After all these years it is as obvious to the rest of the world as it has always been to our industry that banning collegiate betting in Nevada wouldn’t do a thing to stem illegal betting by college students nationwide.

Now that the rest of the world’s betting sites are taking action on the Olympics, the Nevada ban is just as useless in maintaining the purity they pretend to have.

By the way, the Olympics haven’t had any reasonable amount of purity since they left Greece two thousand years ago.

We’re talking about an organization, the International Olympic Committee, which has awarded games to such egregious human rights violators as Russia, China and even Nazi Germany.

So let’s cut the hypocrisy one more time.

We know there are very few amateurs in the Olympics any longer. Not allowing Nevada sports books to take action on the games makes us look like the amateurs.

Chris Andrews has over 30 years of experience as a bookmaker in Nevada. Check out his new website at www.againstthenumber.com and www.sharpssports.comYou can follow him on Twitter@AndrewsSports. Contact Chris at [email protected].

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