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Olympic Basketball Hurdles

Olympic Basketball Hurdles

Olympic Basketball Hurdles
By Micah Roberts

Ever been in a situation where you had to walk the line, bite your tongue and keep your mouth shut on a matter despite it making absolutely no logical sense at all? That’s kind of the situation Nevada sports books are currently in and why you won’t see odds posted on any of the USA Basketball team games throughout the Olympics.

Leading into 2000, Sen. John McCain (R-Arz) was trying to push through legislation to outlaw betting on college sports and it had quite a few books in the state feeling insecure because McCain’s campaign was gaining momentum. The possible loss of college sports would have meant a blow to overall state handle in the area of 30-to-35%.

The main argument McCain used in his campaign was that Nevada doesn’t even allow betting on their own college teams, so why should they be allowed to bet on every other college. Former Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Brian Sandoval quickly counteracted with a change in state regulations that allowed for betting on Nevada college teams, which ultimately negated McCain’s biggest argument and slowed the campaign.

As one of the concessions of the revised statute, it was then stamped and approved that no amateur events could have wagers placed upon. Even though ‘Olympics‘ wasn’t specifically stated in the Reg. 22.120 regarding prohibited wagers, it was defined so by GCB as part of 'amateur non-collegiate sport or athletic events'.

That revision has stayed in tact for 12 years now with no sports book wanting to rock the boat, most likely for fear that if the subject is dug up again, there might be more inquiries into the original basis. No one wants betting on college sports to ever come into any high level conversation again.

Clearly, the USA basketball team full of millionaire NBA players is as far away from the definition of ’amateur’ as it gets. But, why create a stir? We have college sports and the summer Olympics are only every four years.

The LVH Super Book won’t be offering odds on the Olympic basketball matches, but they are taking wagers on the exhibition matches, treating the events like they do in soccer for International Friendlies. No one else in town is offering the exhibition odds.

“We’ve opened up odds on the friendlies prior to the Olympics for soccer just like we do for the Euro Cup or World Cup and this (basketball) really is no different,“ LVH assistant manager Jeff Sherman. “We had odds on the USA-Dominican Republic basketball game last week and the Domincan’s didn’t even make the Olympics, so it‘s a completely different situation. We‘re simply booking an exhibition match played by professionals that isn’t under any governing body or organization.”

Only a few weeks separates the definition of the same players who just finished participating in the bet-upon Euro Cup as professionals to when they play in the non-bettable Olympics as amateurs.

It would seem logical to define the regulation more clearly and not have the sticky red tape in the way, but let‘s just leave it alone for a while and accept it for what it is: an interpretation that doesn’t make any sense, but followed for reasons that don’t interfere with the continuation of making lots of cents and dollars.

We made our trade in the state 12 years ago and if we had to do it again -- one or the other, it would be bye-bye Olympics again. When interstate wagering soon becomes a topic and national regulations come into play, the topic is likely to come up again.

Team USA has three exhibition games remaining after their Monday night match against Brazil in Washington D.C. and then their off to Europe to play England, Argentina and Spain. Their first Olympic game will be Sunday, July 29 against France.

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