Nevada’s sports betting model protects consumers

September 26, 2018 11:39 PM
September 26, 2018 11:39 PM

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled in Murphy v. NCAA that a federal ban on sports betting was unconstitutional, giving each state and sovereign tribal nation the opportunity to create their own legal sports betting markets. This is welcome news for fans and consumers, as well as state and local economies. States that choose to legalize sports betting, which many are expected to do, will give people the opportunity to place wagers in safe, protected, regulated environments for the first time in 25 years.

Outside of Nevada that is.

While states have been quick to act – Delaware being the first state to capitalize on PASPA’s repeal with New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia not far behind – Nevada has been safely offering legal, regulated sports betting for decades. There are good lessons to be learned from that experience.

As the former chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, I believe Nevada provides an excellent example of how best to protect the integrity of the game, the wager, the data and most importantly, the consumer.

The control board’s mission is simple and effective: “To protect the stability of the gaming industry through investigations, licensing, and enforcement of laws and regulations; to ensure the collection of gaming taxes and fees an essential source of state revenue; and to maintain public confidence in gaming.” There is a staff of over 400 people who administer, audit, enforce and tax our facilities around the state to ensure each bet placed is authentic and fair.

In my role at control board, I witnessed the Nevada sports betting model in action and firmly believe the state’s legislative and regulatory framework should serve as a blueprint for other states to follow.

Primarily, Nevada’s model is built to protect consumers. This is achieved through a fair tax rate that encourages healthy competition among sportsbooks, making the legal market more enticing for consumers than the unprotected illegal market. And because no unnecessary fees are paid to outside interests, the legal market can stay competitive and profitable for bettors and sportsbooks alike.

Many have asked if legalized sports betting could impact the integrity of games. Fortunately, the Nevada market has detailed regulations that address this very issue, including prohibiting sportsbooks from knowingly accepting wagers from players, coaches and officials on events in which they participate; requiring sportsbooks to obtain customer information to share with regulators when appropriate; and, notifying regulators of wagers they deem in their judgment to be suspicious.

This regulatory framework doesn’t just protect the integrity of the game, it also protects the integrity of the data and the bet. In the active Nevada model today, sports betting companies, regulators, leagues and data providers can all share information in real-time. In doing so, this will preserve the undetermined outcome of a contest and the accuracy of statistics while identifying and stopping suspicious wagering activity before it takes hold. Together, their shared interest in preserving the integrity of the games, data and bet has allowed legal operators to successfully regulate and monitor sports betting for decades, and for games to continue unscathed.

For proof that these requirements are working, look no further than the National Hockey League’s Vegas Golden Knights. The coexistence of a professional sports team in the heart of Las Vegas has been a shining example of what a well-regulated, legal sports betting market can do. As the American Gaming Association noted earlier this year: “There has not been a documented integrity issue by allowing full scale betting, including in-game propositions, on the team.”

It’s important that lawmakers in each state continue to provide opportunities for consumers to seek information about responsible gambling. With an expected increase in bettors, there should be corresponding efforts to ensure everyone is aware of how to bet responsibly.

Although the Supreme Court’s ruling will undoubtedly expand legal betting opportunities in the United States, gaming is already happening in 40 states and 260 jurisdictions, the vast majority of which have strong responsible gambling initiatives already in place. It’s important to remember that gaming is a thriving industry, guided by effective regulations that have safeguarded consumers for decades. The addition of sports betting will be no different.

Nevada has been able to implement these key pillars by working closely with government agencies, lawmakers, law enforcement and citizens. Success requires participation from all stakeholders. This was a decision made by Nevadans for Nevadans and I encourage other states to learn from our experience and take advantage of the potentially vast economic benefits.

I am confident that if states choose a sports betting model that places an emphasis on protecting consumers first they will be well-positioned to safeguard the integrity of the games and deliver a victory for taxpayers and the economy.

A.G. Burnett is the former Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. He is currently a partner in the Gaming & Administrative Law Group with McDonald Carano.


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