Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
This morning, the Supreme Court found PASPA to be unconstitutional. PASPA was the federal law that prohibited states from enacting laws legalizing gambling outside of Nevada. This law being struck down clears the way for any state to pass legislation allowing sports gambling. There are many questions yet to be answered, but a popular one I’ve seen today is this: What does this mean for Las Vegas?
Vegas Is Still Vegas
Las Vegas will still offer what nobody else in the world, except maybe Macau, can offer: They boast a complete entertainment, gaming experience. So while you may be able to go locally and throw $100 on a random Bucks-Blazers game, you’re not going to be able to eat at Giada’s new restaurant or see Celine Dion at Caesars Palace. You’re not going to have the plethora of options all competing for your entertainment dollar. That will still be done better for the foreseeable future in Las Vegas.
Somebody Has to Teach These Guys
The Supreme Court did its job striking down PASPA. Now the question becomes what will each state do. It isn’t as simple as just popping up sportsbooks on every corner. Each state is going to want its own laws and own restrictions. And really, nobody knows how to set this up, because it’s never been done by any of these states outside of Nevada. This will benefit Las Vegas. I spoke with Duane Colucci, Assistant Race and Sports Director of the Rampart Hotel and Casino, about this very issue this past weekend.
“These states will want to set up race and sportsbooks, and the Las Vegas knowledge will be prominent. How to operate these systems, we can show these casino owners … how to operate, how to get licenses, how to be efficient.”
This is a great point by Duane. Somebody has to teach these guys how to set the books up in a way that will be profitable. It isn’t as simple as throwing lines on the board and collecting money. If it’s not done right, the sportsbooks will close as quickly as they’ll be opening. Las Vegas has the experience and the people to help educate states in this transition period.
On The Buffet With Chad and Scooch, Bob Scucci, the head bookmaker for Boyd Gaming in Nevada, had this to say when The Action Network’s Chad Millman asked him if he was worried:
“I don’t think it worries me at all because I look at it the same way I look at gambling in general. … I remember when other states starting passing legislation to allow some form of gambling, and the [refrain] would always be, ‘This is going to take business away from Las Vegas.’ And it never did. If anything, we just saw the numbers keep rising. I think what it does is it creates a whole new cross segment of bettors.”
It’s All Vegas Anyway
Take a look at New Jersey and what books are opening there. At the Borgata, they’re building a sportsbook — that’s MGM. At Monmouth Racetrack there is a sportsbook ready to go. That’s a William Hill book. Most sportsbooks will be owned by Vegas properties. You’ll see William Hill, MGM and Caesars open books nationwide. They have the experience, they have the people in Vegas to set the lines for all the books and they have the mobile applications already in place to roll out. So whether people realize it or not, they’re most likely going to be betting through Las Vegas anyway.
The long and short of it is this isn’t really going to hurt Las Vegas. People will still flock to Vegas for all sorts of reasons and experiences they can’t get anywhere else. Vegas will be educating and teaching other states. And, most of all, Vegas will still be booking the action for other states.
Vegas will still be the winner in all of this, because, as it has always been, the house always wins.