Nevada Regulators Allow Non-Traditional Pari-Mutuel Betting

Nevada Pari-Mutuel Bets on eSports

Gamblers can bet a racetracks, off-track betting facilities, or big Las Vegas sportsbooks like the WestGate.

The Nevada Gaming Commission recently changed pari-mutuel betting laws, allowing for wagers on non-traditional events. In a summer full of US gaming legislation news, people might have missed the change in Nevada’s pari-mutuel betting laws last month.

SB 240 gives Nevada sports gamblers the opportunity to join a betting pool, instead of wagering against fixed odds, like traditional Las Vegas Strip sports bets involve. The nature of the events should draw interest in gamblers, because it involves the biggest gaming tournaments and sporting evnets of the year.

In the months and years ahead, bettors now have the option to make pari-mutuel bets on events like the World Series of Poker, the NBA Draft, and e-sports events. Punters can wager on who will win the Heisman Trophy or who’ll receive the NBA Most Valuable Player Award. In the past, betting on such events was illegal.

Senate Bill 240

Senate Bill 240 prompted the gaming commission’s policy changes. SB 240 was passed in the last Nevada legislative session in an attempt to make regular sports betting laws sync with pari-mutuel betting laws.

Before the change, bettors could make non-pari-mutuel bets on “other events”, which is defined under Nevada law as events “other than traditional sports, horse, or greyhound races.” 

Under the old policy, pari-mutuel bettors could not place wagers on “other events”. The new definition allows for a much wider definition of events, creating more general interest from gamblers who might not otherwise wager on sports and games. Nevada’s gaming regulators believe the new action might draw interest from younger generation gamblers in particular.

What Is Pari-Mutuel Wagering?

Pari-mutuel wagering is wagering done among a pool of bettors. The Nevada Gaming Commission describes it as “any system whereby wagers with respect to the outcome of a race or sporting event are placed in a wagering pool conducted by a person licensed or otherwise permitted to do so under state law, and in which the participants are wagering with each other.”

Unlike fixed-odds bets (sports betting), the odds of the wagered made are not fixed in pari-mutuel betting until betting is completed. Every wager contributes to the pool, so the final tally of bets produces the odds. Following the start of the event, all betting is ended.

Pari-Mutuel Betting in Horse Racing

Pari-mutuel wagering is done at a racetrack, but also at off-track betting venues, where they do not have to be present at the event to place a bet. This is the method of betting used for horse racing and dog racing through the generations.

Because of the way odds are determined — without vigorish or a rake — states often allow pari-mutuel betting when other forms of betting (especially sports betting) is illegal. Some question exists whether betting pools offers as good of a betting proposition as fixed odds betting, but gamblers now have the option to compare the two on their own.

The bill comes at a time when pari-mutuel betting is in retreat elsewhere around the globe. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the 90-year monopoly that Betfred’s Tote service offers could be coming to an end in 2018.

Esports Betting at Off-Track Facilities

In the case of Nevada, bettors have an exciting new way to bet against other gamblers, instead of “the house”. Millennial gamblers now can go to a racebook or off-track betting facility to place wagers on the WSOP Main Event, the NFL or NBA draft, league MVP awards, and electronic sports like League of Legends, DoTA, and CS:GO.

The new policy should increase the profits of off-track betting venues and racetracks, which is one thing the Nevada Gaming Commission and state lawmakers have wanted for a while. The inclusion of sports-associated betting to the racebooks should bring in more sports fans, while the eSports betting should be the biggest boost, because it attracts millennial gamblers.