Fantasy Sports Threat to Nevada Sports Books

While Nevada recently banned fantasy sports wagering within state borders, the popularity of fantasy sports beyond Nevada’s borders and its support in other states ensures it will remain a potent competitor for state sports books. With new threats growing, the sports betting industry needs to get proactive, a Nevada gaming expert says.

Nevada sports books have enjoyed a long-running monopoly on legalized and regulated sports betting, but threats from fantasy sports and other potential wagering systems pose threats.

Fantasy sports in particular are threatening the break the monopoly Nevada has on sports betting, even though state gaming regulators recently banned fantasy sports betting within Nevada as an unregulated gaming enterprise. Other states, such as Massachusetts, disagree and allow fantasy sports betting, so a viable threat remains to Nevada sports books.

Daily fantasy sports sites FanDuel and DraftKings in particular have been highly active in advertising their service and generating a significant, although as yet unmeasured, amount of business among even sports bettors in Nevada.

A Las Vegas sports betting radio program recently discussed the impact of the state’s newly enforced ban on fantasy sports wagering, many of whom rued the loss of their online daily fantasy sports leagues in the state. One caller, however, said the sites charge a 30 percent fee on all player deposits, making them far worse than sports betting when it comes to paying a vig.

With new threats from fantasy sports, offshore betting, and even other states considering measures that would allow sports betting, Nevada sports books need to be proactive in creating new market opportunities, longtime gaming writer Phil Hevener said.

One such opportunity Hevener suggested is legalizing betting on Olympic events, which previously have been off-limits as amateur sports other than NCAA football and basketball. The proliferation of professional athletes participating in the Olympic Games combined with experience handicapping and betting on college football and basketball make handicapping many of the Olympic events, such as basketball, a real possibility.

Betting on Olympic events, however, would require action by Nevada lawmakers, who also might do well to consider establishing fantasy sports regulations.