California sports betting bill passes Senate committee; Nevada Senate approves election, ‘entity’ bets

california-nevada-sports-bettingThe SB 190 sports betting bill introduced by California state Sen. Rod Wright passed the Senate Governmental Organization Committee on Tuesday by a vote of 11-0. While encouraging, the unanimous support is not without precedent, as Wright’s 2012 bill (SB 1390) received the identical treatment exactly one year ago this week. SB 1390 went on to pass the full Senate by a 32-2 margin, before the state Assembly stuck the knife in by opting not to bring the measure to the floor for a vote.

Token opposition to SB 190 was voiced on Tuesday by representatives from Stanford and the University of California, who fretted over the NCAA’s policy of withholding the right to host championship games from states that intend to offer single-game sports betting. But the Committee evidently saw no harm in giving SB 190 their approval, since California won’t take Wager One until the resolution of New Jersey’s court fight with the sports leagues and the US Department of Justice – and even then, only if New Jersey triumphs. Next stop for SB 1390 is the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Meanwhile, the one US state allowed under federal law to offer single game sports betting keeps trying to expand its betting options. On Tuesday, the Nevada state Senate approved legislation that would permit wagering on the outcome of federal elections by a margin of 14-7. Senate Bill 418 now heads to the Assembly for further rubber stamping.

Also on Tuesday, the Senate voted unanimously (with one abstention) to approve legislation that would allow so-called ‘entity’ betting. Under existing state law, only individuals are allowed to place wagers at Nevada sportsbooks, but SB 346 would allow private equity groups and betting ‘syndicates’ like the ACME Group Trading outfit run by famed/feared bettor Billy Walters to openly make humongous wagers on all manner of athletic contests, including college sports (yet nary a peep of protest from the NCAA).

Ironically, the biggest protest against SB 346 comes from current Nevada Gaming Control Board chairman A.G. Burnett, who has voiced concerns that the influx of pooled money will lead to increased scrutiny by federal watchdogs, including the IRS. While the legislation requires the entity’s principals to be both publicly identified and residing in Nevada, it isn’t hard to see how workarounds could be established. Burnett himself wondered: “How do we ensure that the people are who they say they are?” After all, just because they look like Ashton Kutcher, doesn’t mean their name is Michael Kelso.