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At least 20 states working on betting laws; Vegas book: ‘We just hope they don’t f— it up’

Each Friday, we’ll comb through as many articles, tweets and podcasts as we can find related to the world of sports betting and daily fantasy sports, and publish the good stuff here. 

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At least 20 states are working on legislation in anticipation of sports betting becoming legalized.

While the bills that have been written don’t explicitly cite the leagues that would fall under the laws, officials in several states told NBC News that it’s possible that betting on college sports might not be allowed or would be strictly limited.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, are ready to push forward.

Under a 2013 referendum, New York voters approved a state constitutional amendment that could expand gambling at new commercial casinos to include sports betting — if it were to become legal.

State Sen. John Bonacic, chairman of the Racing, Gaming and Waging Committee, said that he came away from the hearings in his state feeling like the best option would be simply to draw a carbon copy of one of the places in the U.S. that he says already has “robust” consumer protections, monitoring, enforcement and a narrow framework for online sports betting.

“We want it to look like Vegas, frankly,” the Republican legislator said. “They’re the perfect model, obviously.


ESPN Chalk’s David Purdum wrote a feature article about how nationwide legal sports betting could change the sportsbook scene in Las Vegas.

Everyone at the supper table first came to town during a 10-year span starting in the mid-’70s. The charismatic Jimmy Vaccaro, short, with thick gray hair, is the senior statesman. In January 1975, he caught a lift from his brother Sonny to the Pittsburgh airport and headed to the desert. Sonny went on to become a prominent sports marketing executive; Jimmy became America’s bookmaker, even appearing on “The Simpsons” to break down the odds on who shot Mr. Burns. Art Manteris and Chris Andrews, two fun-loving Greek cousins from Pittsburgh, knew Vaccaro from back east and showed up a few years later. Their uncle “Pittsburgh” Jack Franzi, a renowned bettor at the time, provided them entry into the business, if only on the other side of the counter, trying to beat him. Vic Salerno, a dentist by trade, got to town around the same time to get into the bookmaking business. Vinny Magliulo and Johnny Avello, a pair of slender New Yorkers, relocated to Sin City shortly after. And they’ve all been dining together regularly ever since. Looking around the table, it’s easy to wonder how much longer this group can hold it together.

“I am worried,” says Manteris. “I have a growing list of concerns.”

His cousin, Chris, is more frank.

“Now that it’s on the verge of maybe happening,” Andrews says, “we just hope they don’t f— it up. I don’t want to see a good thing go by the wayside here.”


A British sports betting company is placing a bet in hopes that the United States legalizes sports betting.

Smarkets Ltd., which already runs a betting exchange, is investing about $5 million to create a traditional sportsbook that will first be launched in its home market in coming months, Chief Executive Officer Jason Trost said.

“The main reason we’re building this is to go into the U.S.,” Trost said by phone from Los Angeles, where he’s based. He estimates the market there could be worth $10 billion to $20 billion were it to be fully liberalized.

The closely held operator is one of many online gambling firms positioning themselves to jump into the U.S. should its ban on sports betting be lifted. The Supreme Court is due to rule in coming months on whether to end a federal law that prohibits such gambling, with at least four states having already enacted legislation to legalize and regulate sports betting.


The New Jersey Division of Gaming enforcement is encouraging potential sports betting operators to apply for licenses before the Supreme Court ruling.

“The Division of Gaming Enforcement recognizes it needs to be prepared to investigate and license businesses and individuals seeking to enter the New Jersey gaming market should the Supreme Court issue a favorable decision authorizing the state to legalize and regulate sports wagering,” David Rebuck, director of the Division of Gaming Enforcement, said in a statement to ESPN. “Under existing law, any business or individual anticipating entering into a commercial transaction with a casino must be licensed or approved by the Division. Many companies have inquired as to the State’s licensing requirements in the event they are able to engage in sports wagering operations with our casino industry. The Division has encouraged these companies to commence the application process.”