Local News


Fight to legalize sports betting could benefit Nevada

Posted at 5:45 PM, Dec 04, 2017

One of Nevada's exclusive industries could be opening up to the rest of the country.

The Supreme Court heard arguments Monday about repealing a federal ban on sports betting.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie is the plaintiff in the case that will determine whether the decision to legalize sports gambling is left up to the states.

Nevada made the betting legal before the federal ban was enacted.

So when it comes to how Nevada would be affected, one school of thought is that national legalization would give gamblers a reason to stop coming to Las Vegas.

Mike Junio from Green Bay, Wisconsin is one of those gamblers.

"I would love it," Junio said. "I would never come back to Vegas again. It's a great place but I don't care if [where I bet] is just a little 12 by 12 room in Wisconsin."

Close observers of the industry believe people like Junio are the exceptions.

The appeal of placing bets in Las Vegas is still strong.

"Sports betting is happening nationwide whether we like it or not underground, so I think people come to Vegas because it's fun," said Luke Pergande, a sports betting entrepreneur.

Pergande and Ian Epstein are co-founders of a company called Propswap, an eBay-esque marketplace for sports betting tickets.

Jay Kornegay, the vice president of race and sports operations at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, compared sports gambling to being an art enthusiast.

Just like art lovers want to go to the Louvre, gamblers will want to come to Las Vegas.

"[If] people are betting sports more because of its legalization, they'll ultimately want to come out to Las Vegas to enjoy the real party," Kornegay said.

In a statement, Representative Dina Titus said "Those of us who have been involved with the industry know that a regulated market is better than an illegal one. Change is long overdue."

Illicit sports gambling is estimated to be a $150 billion a year business.

The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision next spring.