Threat Seen to Nevada’s Sports Betting Monopoly

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By Richard N. Velotta and Brian Wargo, Las Vegas Sun

Nevada will face competition for race and sports books, a state gaming regulator predicts.

"The most pent-up demand is for sports wagering," state Gaming Control Board member Randall Sayre told more than 60 lawyers at the 2009 Gaming Law Conference on Nov. 6, sponsored by the State Bar of Nevada.

Sayre said as more states struggle to develop revenue sources, some will look to race and sports books as a solution.

"There will be intense revenue pressures, more than we've ever seen before. The profound impact of competition on the state is not going to go away," he said.

Nevada, the only state to offer legal wagering on sports, nearly got its first competition this year when Delaware proposed allowing sports bets at racinos. The move was blocked by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals when the National Football League, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Collegiate Athletic Association filed a motion in opposition.

Delaware was one of four states - with Oregon, Montana and New Jersey - exempted from legislation banning sports wagering in the United States, one of the last bills sponsored by former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, who played professional basketball before getting into politics.

The four states had an exemption because they had lottery games tied to professional football results.

Sports betting accounts for just 1 percent of the total gaming win in Nevada every year.

Conde Nast Traveler magazine's readers have weighed in on their favorite destinations, and although Las Vegas got a few mentions in several categories, no Las Vegas property made the list of the top 100 hotels in the world.

No. 1 on that list was the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai, Thailand. But the Four Seasons Las Vegas ranked No. 18 in the top 100 hotels in the United States. Bellagio was No. 20, Venetian was No. 38 and Encore was tied for No. 44.

In the list of the top 75 mainland U.S. resorts, Wynn Las Vegas was tied for No. 8, followed by Palazzo, tied for No. 10. Ritz-Carlton Lake Las Vegas was tied for No. 70.

Las Vegas failed to crack the top 10 U.S. cities, according to Conde Nast readers, with the top 10 being San Francisco; Charleston, S.C.; Santa Fe, N.M.; New York; Chicago; Honolulu; Carmel, Calif.; Savannah, Ga.; San Diego; and Boston.

Eighty-six percent of UNLV's Boyd School of Law graduates passed the Nevada bar exam on their first try in July, the highest level since the school opened 11 years ago.

Among all first-time test takers - including out-of-state lawyers who plan to practice in Nevada as well as graduates of Arizona State University, Cal Western Law School, University of San Diego and University of the Pacific, 74 percent passed.

The record rate for UNLV graduates says a lot of about the law school and the job it is doing, Dean John White said. It signifies its focus is not only on students who are highly ranked, but also on those who aren't and still do well on the exam, he said.

"It is something we have emphasized, and we have taken seriously to get our bar passage (rate) at the highest level," White said.

The school offers free seminars on how to study for the bar, White said. Even former students who don't pass the bar the first time can get assistance, he said.

White said the bar exam in Nevada is tougher than in Utah and Arizona. He said he doesn't have any results on how UNLV graduates fared in those states this year.

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