PlayUSA Rewind: Big Sports Betting Payday At Bellagio Could Be Voided

Written By Grant Lucas on July 15, 2020 - Last Updated on March 15, 2021

Well, here’s a first.

We’re not leading with the effect of the coronavirus pandemic or welcoming the return of major American sports. We’re not talking about mergers or casino acquisitions, or even spotlighting new state legislation.

Rather, the headliner goes to a case that could cause fault lines to develop once a decision comes down. And weirdly, it could have been avoided so easily.

On to the Rewind:

Sports betting fiasco erupts in Las Vegas

During a 90-minute window, some 50 wagers were placed on Korean and Chinese baseball games via self-service kiosks at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas.

By the end, bettors had pocketed almost $250,000 in winnings — arguably the worst loss in Las Vegas sports betting history.

It stemmed from a simple manual entry error: The operator listed the games’ start times incorrectly, allowing bettors to place pregame-priced wagers between 1:30 a.m. and 3 a.m. when the games actually began between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.

Now, the Nevada Gaming Control Board has entered to potentially solve the issue.

Generally speaking, Nevada sports betting abides by the rule that “tickets stand as written,” although bets can be voided if an “obvious computer, mechanical, technical or human error” occurs.

As the Bellagio terminals required manual entry of start times, perhaps this would allow the operator to void those bets.

Rhode Island sports betting registration going remote?

Legislation introduced in the Rhode Island House could allow bettors to create sports betting accounts without leaving their homes.

The bill, H 8097, would essentially speed up the signup process via Twin River Casino and create a more competitive legalized wagering industry in Rhode Island.

As it stands, state residents can register accounts remotely but must visit one of Rhode Island’s two casinos to complete the process. This new bill, however, does away with the in-person requirement.

Rhode Island became one of the first regulated sports betting markets to go live when it launched in November 2018, though it remained retail wagering only. The 2019 legislature introduced a mobile betting aspect, though it obviously required in-person registration. As expected, the industry did not grow much, and revenue fell fairly short of projections.

This new bill, as detailed by Legal Sports Report, removes 16 words to modernize the state’s sports betting law. An online gaming account would now be defined as “an account opened by a patron that such patron shall use for the deposit and withdrawal of funds used for online sports wagering.”

The Rhode Island Legislature will meet again within the week to deep-dive into bills that stacked up after the coronavirus pandemic caused a three-month hiatus. Soon, hopefully, the House Finance Committee will move the bill forward. And soon, hopefully, Rhode Island will eliminate in-person registration.

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College football leaning toward conference-only action

Any other year — in “normal” years, if you will — this would be the time of ramping up, like a roller coaster slowly creeping up to the opening drop, ready to crest it and take us speeding into the college football season.

But this is not any other year. And conferences have started to show their hands as to how they will deal with the pandemic.

Certainly, potential revenue losses can drive any business to make the decisions they make. Money, though, is not enough for some smaller conferences. The Ivy League and Patriot League have shown us that recently by canceling fall sports in 2020, with the potential to do the same to winter and even spring sports.

On a grander scale, though, the first major changes emerged as two Power 5 conferences elected to limit fall sports to conference-only games.

First came the Big Ten, which figured moving to a conference-only model would eliminate at least some long-distance traveling and better ensure consistent coronavirus testing. Actual scheduling will be announced at a later date, but it was made clear that such a decision would also allow the Big Ten to hit the pause button should another spike occur in September or October.

A day later, the Pac-12 announced that it would feature conference-only schedules for fall sports. Additionally, it said, the fall season start will be delayed due to increased COVID-19 cases in the Los Angeles area.

The other three Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big 12, and SEC) said they would likely wait until the end of the month to make their decisions on a schedule.

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sports writer who has covered the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield and Oregon State athletics, the Portland Trail Blazers and golf throughout his career.

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