By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
After five rocky years, the Nevada Legislature and Gaming Control Board agree it is probably time to end the state’s ill-conceived “entity gaming” concept — a sports-betting investment plan where bettors pool their money into a mutual fund and designate the fund manager to make wagers.
Assembly Judiciary Chairman Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, said on Nevada Newsmakers that the Legislature originally approved the idea in 2015 as a novel approach to gaming but the plan “never really got off the ground.”
News reports, however, showed that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges on at least three Nevada companies engaged in the practice, including Bettor Investments of Reno. Some reports linked fraud and money laundering to the practice. Less than 10 entity gaming groups were ever formed in Nevada, according to reports.
Yeager told host Sam Shad that he was not an elected member of the Legislature when entity gaming was approved.
“I do remember hearing about it back in 2015 and thinking that it was creative,” he said. “People might not want to invest in the stock market but if you have money in this pool and you’ve got action on the Atlanta Hawks game, you might be more interested in the game.”
The Assembly Judiciary Committee has already publicly discussed the Gaming Control Board’s request although no vote was recorded. The meeting was not filled with passion to keep the practice alive, Yeager said.
“We had a hearing on it and nobody really seemed to care one way or another,” Yeager said. “We have not processed the bill yet but we likely will. I just think it was one of those good ideas that never really materialized.”
While entity gaming is going down, online poker may be picking up, Yeager said.
He pointed to the January launch of online gambling in Michigan and the opening of Pennsylvania’s second online gaming site in February after the first site launched in December. The Illinois Legislature is also considering a online gaming bill. Tribal sports betting and online casino bill are being considered in Connecticut. Online poker bills are being pushed in Indiana and North Dakota.
“We’re still talking about online poker and trying to get more compacts signed into law,” Yeager said. “That is something we are actively working to do. But we are just waiting for other states to come on board.”
National momentum for online poker is apparent, Yeager said.
“I think with sports betting happening in a lot of other states like Michigan and Pennsylvania, we may be able to see those come on board and we’ll have a robust online poker market in the U.S.,” he said.
Yet the new sites and industry won’t be a robust as off-shore sites.
“I don’t think we’ll ever approach what we did when they had the big international conglomerates that were running illegal online poker,” Yeager said.