The World Comes Together — to Wager: Nevada Regulators Give OK for Olympic Betting

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The World Comes Together -- to Wager Nevada Regulators Give OK for Olympic BettingWorld peace may be elusive, but wagering? Now that has some potential.

In a recent turnabout, Nevada gambling regulators just voted to sanction the state’s sports books to offer bets on the 2016 Olympics. It will be the first time in many years that such wagering has been legal.

“It was a move unopposed by anyone in the industry and cheered by the regulators themselves,” noted the Boston Herald. “International sports books in Great Britain, Ireland, and Australia and offshore Internet sites already allow such bets.”

The well-known odds-maker and sports book director for Wynn Las Vegas, Johnny Avello, admitted he hasn’t paid much attention to the Olympics in recent years, but that his attitude would change.

“Believe it or not, this curling is becoming popular,” Avello said of the winter sport devoted to ice, brooms, and — mostly — Canadians. “You could put a future on that.”

Olympic betting did take place in Las Vegas in the 1990s, according to Avello, but “that was also before the event’s team sports took on a more professional membership.”

“Those are going to be some of your top events,” Avello said of basketball and hockey, among touted team sports featured in the Olympics.

Interestingly, many of the perennially favored Olympic events — like figure skating and gymnastics — feature underage competitors and pretty subjective judging. Whether bets on these events will pan out is up to the sports books to decide.

“Barry Lieberman, the lawyer representing South Point hotel and casino who started the push for Olympic wagering a few months ago, said he doesn’t want betting on children’s events like the Little League World Series,” according to the Boston Herald. “But what about gymnastics where the majority of competitors might be teenagers? “We bet on horse racing, and there are 16-year-old apprentice jockeys running,” he said.”

Nevada regulators say they have the blessing of the International Olympics Committee. They worked with the committee in advance of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, mostly to share information on Olympic betting and protect against illegal wagering.

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