Supreme Court case to expand sports betting has Las Vegas' attention

Patrons make their wagers and follow the games Sunday, December 3, 2017, at the Race & Sports SuperBook inside Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. (Corwin Hall/KSNV)

The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday on a case that could legalize sports betting to any state outside of Nevada that wants to regulate it.

Nevada currently maintains the monopoly on sports betting, but the Supreme Court could potentially open the floodgates to dozens of other states.

The Race & Sports SuperBook inside the Westgate on Sundays is filled with hundreds of sports bettors hoping to win big. John Sargant visits Las Vegas from Michigan eight times a year to place wagers on football. This week, Sargant has made $15,000 worth of wagers.

“We have all the casinos, MGM and such in Detroit, and it’s very surprising that we have to come all the way here when we have the same thing here essentially,” said Sargant, who welcomes any change to the betting ban.

On Monday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments about the constitutionality of a federal law that bans sports betting in states outside of Nevada. It comes on the heels of a recent Washington Post poll that found public opinion is shifting, with 55 percent of Americans now in favor of legalizing sports betting.

“In my eyes, I certainly think it’s OK to expand sports gambling across the country as long as it’s controlled and regulated like it is here in the state of Nevada,” said Jay Kornegay of the Westgate SuperBook.

Most sports wagering is done illegally, according to most estimates, to the tune of $150 billion nationwide.

It depends on who you ask how a change in the betting ban would affect Las Vegas.

“I think it’s going to have little impact,” said Kornegay, citing that most visitors don’t come to Las Vegas specifically to bet but are lured by the complete Las Vegas experience.

On the other hand, David Schwartz of the UNLV Center for Gaming Research speculates there could be some negative effects.

“They’d have more places to do it, so people might bring less money to bet in Vegas because they can do it in other places,” said Schwartz.

Most sports leagues — including the NCAA, NFL, MLB and NHL — are opposed to legalizing sports betting across the board, citing claims it would compromise the integrity of the sports.

The Supreme Court could make a ruling by the summer.

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