When Did Sports Betting Become Legal in Vegas?

The legal side of sports betting in Vegas is pretty interesting to follow. It seems like every year since the inception of sports betting, there has been some sort of amendment to the Nevada Gaming Control Act to specifically allow for either football, basketball, or baseball betting. It was initially only legal to bet on horse races, but that line was eventually blurred away with the rise of the modern day sports book. Now that baseball, basketball, and football are fully embraced as legitimate sports in the Vegas valley, it’s only a matter of time before the full legalization of all sporting events.

A Brief History Of Sports Betting In Vegas

Back in 1963, Nevada legalized sports betting. At that time it was only legal to bet on horse races. It wasn’t until the late 1960s that other sports began to emerge as legitimate bets for bettors in Nevada. That is thanks to the combined efforts of the state’s top racing officials and bookmakers. They sought to promote the sports of football, basketball, and baseball and create a level playing field for competition. It was during this time that Las Vegas bookmaker Jack O’Shea started offering betting on a variety of sports including football, basketball, and baseball. It wasn’t long before Nevada casinos started getting into the act as well, offering bets on other professional sports like the NFL and NBA. In 1968, Nevada legalized wagering on all college sports and the next year, all amateur sports. Since then, all sports have been fully legalized in Nevada and the industry has grown exponentially. In 2018, Nevada had a $13.7 billion economic impact from sports and leisure related activities.

Why Are Legislators Keeping Score On This One?

In early 2018, the Nevada Gaming Control Board released the results of a study that examined the economic impact of legalizing betting on all sports in the state. According to the study, legalizing sports betting would bring in $400 million in additional state revenues during the first year alone. That figure would jump to $1.3 billion per year once sports betting is fully implemented.

As with any new industry, there is a desire to keep track of how many people are involved with illegal activity. The Nevada Gaming Control Board conducted an audit of the state’s lotteries and bookmakers to gauge the extent of illegal activity and report it along with the rest of their findings. The audit found 9.9% of the state’s wagering pools weren’t legitimate, which the Gaming Board believes is largely thanks to collusion between sports bookmakers and lotteries. It is still unclear as to what extent collusion between sports bookmakers and lotteries exists, but the audit did find a higher than expected level of collusion in the state’s sports betting industry. In 2018, the auditors were unable to obtain a total of $3.7 million in illegal wagers from the three bookmakers they audited. That is a 35% decrease from the previous year and they attribute this to the fact that the bookmakers have “adopted practices or technologies that enable them to restrict the types of bets made and the individuals to whom they will allow the bets to be made”. The Gaming Control Board stands by their findings and recommends that the state legislature pass legislation to legalize sports betting for “amateur and professional sports as it is considered a risk to place illegal wagers at casinos”.

When it comes to legislation, there are often a variety of different motives that drive the state’s lawmakers. Sometimes it is a desire to encourage an economic activity in their state, while at other times it is a way to keep an eye on what is going on at the grassroots level regarding their industry. In the case of sports betting in Nevada, it seems that they want to keep track of what is going on at the top level as well so that they can ensure that the integrity of the game remains intact for the fans.

The Rise Of The Sports Book

One of the biggest changes that has happened in the sports betting world is the rise of the ‘books’. Prior to the late 1990s, all sports betting took place at the ‘track’ or ‘book’ and there were actually more than 30 different tracks in the city. Since then, most sports betting has taken place online, which has essentially made books obsolete. The handful of active tracks still in existence are still going strong and are frequently visited by people traveling from all over the world, but the sports betting world has changed.

Future Of Sports Betting In Vegas

It’ll be interesting to see what happens next regarding sports betting in Vegas. The state’s economy could certainly use the boost that comes with legalized sports betting and the Board is recommending that the state legislature pass a bill to that effect. However, the odds of Vegas being able to keep their fully legalized status is certainly against them. With so much competition from other gambling areas, it isn’t hard to imagine that sports betting will eventually become just another thing that Vegas has to offer.