Mon, Aug 8, 10:13am by Staff Writer
While Australian gamblers have freely bet on Olympic sports for over 20 years, punters in the world’s gambling mecca Las Vegas are betting on the Olympics this year for the first time since 2000.
A law amendment pushed in 2001 by Sen. John McCain to prevent betting on college athletics in saw Nevada’s sportsbooks agree to stop betting on the Olympics in order to prevent a ban on gambling on the lucrative NCAA’s basketball tournament and college football sector.
But in February 2015, Nevada Gaming Control approved an amendment to state gaming regulations allowing wagering on events sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee.
The pressure is now on the Vegas sportsbooks to ensure they get their markets right, but the betting interest to date has been around novelty bets.
“I don’t think we’ve taken a bet over $200 [on the Olympics],” Jeff Stoneback, assistant manager of MGM Race and Sports told ESPN.
Las Vegas punters seem to be betting what they know, with a lot of focus on the Team USA basketball team, which features a bevvy of NBA stars.
William Hill’s Nevada Sportsbook has reported it has taken a $8100 bet on a gold medal for Team USA, which won its opening match 119-62 against China, beating the line of 50 points.
Betting interest is expected to build as the Olympics progress, with Vegas gamblers likely to take special interest in the performance of swimmer Michael Phelps, the most successful Olympian of all time, and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who is aiming for three straight spring gold medals in both the 100m and 200m.
Any event that receives a lot of attention from the media, there’s a good chance that we could post it,” he says. “Whether it’s popular because of controversy or a great story and or an American competing for a gold medal,” Jay Kornegay, vice-president of the Westgate SuperBook, told Nymag.com last week.
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