Offshore Goes Mainstream

When the news of a proposed ban on college betting first made headlines, most experts blew it off, but Jimmy Vaccaro was one of the first to see the threat as very real and to address it as such.

Some bettors reading Jimmy’s comments in Players Choice newspaper mistakenly thought he favored the plan.  Far from it.  He was simply alerting the sports betting community to the writing on the wall.  Jimmy’s original take on the issue has proven to be most prescient.

Just for the record, legal sports betting in the U.S. is prohibited everywhere but Nevada, through a law passed in 1992.

However, the nation’s vast army of illegal bookmakers – and of course, their customers – scoff at the law, in much the same way bootleggers and citizens who enjoyed a nip of hooch ignored Prohibition.

Increasingly, it is becoming apparent that forces at work in Washington, D.C., are inexorably leading up to a bipartisan bill that would seriously compromise the sports betting industry in Las Vegas.

Cloaking themselves in hypocritical self-righteousness, our elected representatives insist on pressing ahead with this ill-considered legislation.

They are also demonstrating how woefully out of touch they are with reality.  When Senator John McCain, R-AZ, proclaims that banning legal sports wagering will “end a practice that has turned college athletes into objects to be bet upon, exposing themselves to unwarranted pressure, bribery and corruption,” he is displaying an unfortunate short circuit in his thought processes.

The good senator is also ignoring crucial statistics, which make a mockery of his conclusions.

Reality Bites, but apparently not very deeply.  The Beltway legislators who enjoy many a free lunch at the expense of taxpayers, are too dim witted to notice some revealing figures:  namely that the volume of legal wagering on college sports in Nevada last year was estimated at $600 million to $800 million.

Compare that year-round total with the $2.5 billion the FBI estimates is bet just on the annual NCAA basketball tournament, illegally.

According to one estimate, 99 percent of wagering on college events is through illegal bookmakers.

Those comparisons put the issue in context and illustrate how the volume of action placed with local bookies dwarfs that of Nevada’s licensed sports books.  Thus, it would make sense for our dim-bulb lawmakers to clamp down on wagering of the illegal kind.

Certainly, illegal books and those off shore are dancing for glee as the U.S. government once again goes off on a bizarre, morality-based tangent.  Nevada’s loss will be reflected in healthy gains by local U.S. bookies, and the off shore industry.

The tragedy of this saga is that if the Nevada sports books were legislated out of business, by the time the mistake becomes apparent it will be too late to remedy the situation.  Once sports books are dismantled, the LED boards taken down, etc., Vegas sports wagering will be history.

The battle is just heating up, but we wouldn’t put it in the bluenoses’ victory column just yet.  The casinos are mounting a counterattack, and praying common sense kicks in.  A key factor in this strategy will be to insist on the “state’s rights” off Nevada being respected.

Off Shore Goes Main Stream.  As off shore gaming slowly becomes embedded in our culture, more and more mainstream media venues are taking note of this phenomenon.

We are contributing, albeit modestly, to this growing awareness.  In the May issue of Millionaire magazine, we have written a story that briefly chronicles the growth and evolution of the off shore gaming industry.

The magazine has a decidedly upscale audience if its advertising, promotional copy and exquisite production values are any measure.  To suggest this magazine talks to and for The Establishment would be an understatement, we believe.

So, when magazines such as Millionaire decide that off shore sports betting has come of age and merits coverage, it is an encouraging sign.

We give the magazine high marks for professionalism.  When they requested that our original 1700 words be reduced to 1200, we were asked to make the edits, rather than them trying to do it and perhaps botching the story.

However, where we do have a quibble is in the magazine’s too liberal use of rather mediocre graphics.  Admittedly, we didn’t provide any pictures, and the editors were forced to use stock photos.  So we accept some of the blame.

Weak graphics do not strengthen a piece, is the kindest way we can couch our criticism.  Sometimes style can triumph over substance, but not this time.

Ideally, we’ll be updating the industry through quarterly stories in the magazine, and future pieces will be supported by better graphics. | April 27th, 2000

– – – – – – – – – – – –About the writer
A long time sports betting columnist, Buzz Daly

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