Is Las Vegas Still Sports Betting Mecca With No PASPA To Protect It?

Written By Adam Candee on May 16, 2018

The federal ban on sports betting died this week when the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). States now are free to legislate on the issue any way they choose.

In Nevada, of course, no legislation will be needed. The state legalized gambling in 1931 and adjusted to a series of changes to federal taxation through the years. PASPA created a de facto sports betting monopoly for Nevada in 1992, but those days are over.

So does ending the nation’s ban on sports betting signal forthcoming problems for Nevada casinos? Will Las Vegas still stand as the sports wagering capital of the country?

Let’s take a closer look …

This is a bad thing for Nevada, right?

Actually, most industry experts see the Supreme Court decision as a win for everyone involved in sports betting. Nevada is no different.

A legalized market across the country creates a larger pool of players, buoying the industry as a whole. The perception of legalization and more ready availability of betting options could shift players over from the illegal market everywhere.

Don’t forget that many of the major players in Nevada — notably MGM and Caesars — have a major presence in markets likely to bring sports gambling to market quickly like New Jersey and Mississippi.

But won’t people stop going to Nevada to bet on sports?

Those who think Nevada will lose money because people will not come to bet misunderstand how the Strip attracts visitors. In the past two decades, most Las Vegas visitors pared back how much they budget for gambling.

A 2017 survey by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority showed the average Las Vegas visitor spends about two hours gambling per visit. They bring $619 per person, up about $135 from 2012.

Las Vegas adjusted to this spending change, beefing up restaurant, entertainment, and nightclub offerings to make money other ways. In March — a heavy month for Nevada sportsbooks with the NCAA tournament — sports betting accounted for just $34 million of Nevada’s $381 million win.

March Madness and the Super Bowl continue to be destination events for Las Vegas tourism. The same holds true to a lesser degree for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights of the NHL. More than 5,000 fans traveled to Las Vegas from Edmonton for a regular-season game in January.

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What will be different at Nevada’s sportsbooks?

Nothing in the short term. The Supreme Court decision simply allows each state to chart its own course on sports betting. Nevada law remains settled.

Will Nevada books have to price more aggressively to compete?

Nevada operators already price to compete as best they can against illegal offshore operations. New legal operators in other states almost certainly will pay higher taxes than Nevada’s 6.75 percent gross gaming win levy. In a business with a five percent margin, they likely cannot create much price competition while paying more taxes.

In some cases, out-of-state options might not even look different than those in Nevada. William Hill reportedly plans to offer the same menu as its Nevada offering when it opens at Monmouth Park in New Jersey in the near future.

Can I now bet on my phone from other states with Nevada casinos apps?

No. It is important to understand that sports betting did not become legal nationwide on Monday. The Supreme Court only removed the prohibition for individual states to legalize it.

The rules still require you to be within Nevada’s state borders to bet with your Nevada-based mobile app. Geolocation tracking will make sure you do.

Can I play daily fantasy sports in Nevada now?

No. DFS remains a no-go in the Silver State.

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Adam Candee

Adam Candee is a veteran of covering sports business and news in Las Vegas. Adam arrived in Las Vegas in 1989, and is a former editor and reporter at the Las Vegas Sun and KLAS-TV.

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