(Click Here for the Latest Online Poker News Stories)
Copyright © 2006 Las Vegas Sun
HEADLINE: State isn't all-in on poker-player
Author: Liz Benston
You're probably not sharp enough to qualify for the World Series
of Poker final championship event as a player, but Nevada is considering
allowing you to get a piece of the action anyway - by betting
on the players.
Step up to the window, folks, and buy a $2 ticket for Chris Moneymaker
to win, place or show in the finals of Texas
That's the idea being pushed by an attorney who wants to give
bettors in Nevada an opportunity to get in on the poker action
at a time when players are achieving stardom and televised tournaments
are hotter than ever.
Such betting is illegal, but commonplace among bookies.
Poker insiders say
state-approved betting on poker championships would generate a
wealth of wagering by casual players who follow poker but don't
have an opportunity to play in the big tournaments. Biggest among
them: the World Series of Poker's championship event, which starts
July 28 and will attract more than 8,000 people who will plunk
down $10,000 each for a shot at fame and fortune.
Promoters can expect that betting on top-rated poker
players could tap the same kind of passions that drive football
fans to bet on teams led by their quarterback idols. Bettors wagered
$95 million in Nevada casinos on the Super Bowl this year - the
biggest gambling day of the year.
Just as sports betting picks up in playoff events, "interest
would be really strong for the big branded tournaments like the
World Series of Poker as more people have a stake in what's going
on," said Anthony Curtis, a poker player and publisher of
the Las Vegas Advisor newsletter for gamblers.
But one regulator has already nixed the idea on the basis that
Nevada law only allows betting on traditional sporting events.
Regulators fear that opening the door to poker tournaments could
usher in betting on a host of other noncasino games, from checkers
and darts to Monopoly.
"Are we opening a Pandora's Box?" asked Mark Clayton,
the state Gaming Control Board member who denied the initial request.
Attorney Harry Platis has appealed Clayton's decision to the
full, three-member Control Board, who will hear a presentation
from Platis at a meeting Wednesday. Platis may also appeal the
Control Board vote to the five-member Nevada Gaming Commission,
which meets later this month.
Another concern is how the tournaments would be monitored and
what kind of sanctioning bodies would be on hand to oversee the
While collusion is a concern with any gambling game, the idea
that players can win or lose poker games to benefit bettors has
more recently gained steam in the poker world. Many poker officials
say the concern is overblown and that casinos have ways of detecting
colluding teams or false plays.
Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said he isn't leaning
one way or the other on the application, which should be debated
by all of the board members because it would mark a significant
departure from the status quo.
The attorney general's office also will be analyzing the request
to see that it doesn't jeopardize Nevada's exemption from federal
law prohibiting sports bets, he said.
Platis isn't involved in the casino or poker business and isn't
fronting for anyone, his attorney says. His idea to allow pari-mutuel,
or group betting on the outcome of poker and billiard tournaments,
appears to be unique.
Internet casinos, which are off-limits to U.S. gamblers but enjoy
widespread popularity among Nevadans and gamblers worldwide, opened
the door years ago to betting on poker
tournaments. They set long-shot odds on individual players
- bets that are more like lotteries than casino games because
of the hundreds to thousands of players in each tournament and
the importance of luck, which has allowed unknowns to win the
top prizes in recent years.
Pari-mutuel betting - in which gamblers' wagers are pooled and
paid out to winners - is common in horse racing, dog racing and
jai alai. Instead of betting against the house, as with most casino
games, pari-mutuel bettors are wagering against one another. The
fewer gamblers who bet on the winner, the larger their share is
of the winning pot.
By offering pari-mutuel bets, Nevada casinos wouldn't risk their
own money by setting odds. Instead, they would take a rake off
the top of the pot, as they do with racing events.
If they win permission to engage in pari-mutuel betting on poker
events, Nevada casinos would finally be able to tap a revenue
source that for now has gone to illegal bookies who attend poker
championships and take wagers on individuals and teams of players.
It wouldn't be the first time the nation's gambling capital has
opened the door to new forms of betting. Nevada has pushed the
envelope in many areas to make it easier for people to place wagers,
such as allowing wireless wagering on casino floors and casino
games in nightclubs and other venues that charge admission.
World Series of Poker owner Harrah's Entertainment could gain
the most from the betting rule because it would like generate
a surge of interest among tournament watchers. A Harrah's official
said the company had no comment on the application but is interested
in the outcome.
Liz Benston can be reached at 259-4077 or at email@example.com.
She also writes a weekly gaming column for sister publication
In Business Las Vegas.
Poker Bonus: 50% up to $250
downloaded from the World Wide Web on July 12, 2006:
(Click Here for the Latest Online Poker News Stories)