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Clemson win cost Las Vegas books millions; Sessions was ‘shocked’ at Wire Act memo

Twice weekly, 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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Clemson’s win over Alabama in the national championship game was not a good result for Las Vegas sportsbooks.

William Hill’s 108 books in Nevada lost more than $1 million on the game.

“It was definitely our worst college football game ever, and I’m pretty sure it was our biggest loss in a single game,” William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said.

The game, a rematch of last year’s championship won 45-40 by the Crimson Tide, generated an estimated handle of more than $20 million in Nevada that is one of the highest ever for a college football national title game.

“It’s the highest single-game handle I’ve ever seen, which proves that college is catching up,” veteran South Point oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro said. “It keeps telling me I’ve been wrong for 20 years saying that we can’t get much better and we can’t write more tickets. The public keeps telling me, ‘Jimmy, go sit down. You’re wrong.’

“The intriguing thing to me was we wrote more on that game than we did on the first NFL game of the weekend.”

The Westgate, Wynn and MGM Resorts each reported six-figure losses on the game.

“It wasn’t a catastrophe. It definitely was a hard punch to the jaw,” Westgate sports book director Jay Kornegay said. “Everything the public bet came through for them.”

Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions said he was “shocked” at the 2011 Department of Justice memorandum that Wire Act prohibited only online sports betting.

Sessions said he “did oppose [the 2011 opinion] when it happened, and it seemed to me to be unusual.”

Sessions went on to say that he “would revisit [the 2011 opinion] and I would make a decision about it based on careful study.” However, Sessions added that he hadn’t “gone that far to give you an opinion today.”

While there appears to be little appetite in the current Congress to pass anti-online gambling legislation, the DOJ opinion could swiftly be undone by a fresh opinion by the new DOJ administration, effectively rolling back all progress to date on the US online gambling front.

A U.S. senator introduced a bill that would define “chance” and tax gaming operators.

The new Senate bill includes special provisions for gaming “sponsors” and provides a specific definition for what constitutes “chance.” According to the draft legislation, chance includes a bet or wager involving “(1) a random or unpredictable event or (2) an event over which neither the gaming sponsor nor the person purchasing the chance has control over the outcome.”

The legislation would impose a 23 percent tax rate on a company offering games of chance. The proposed bill does not specify whether DFS companies or Nevada sportsbooks would be subject to the tax.

Boxer Floyd Mayweather said he sometimes bets “millions” in an interview about sports betting with ESPN Chalk.

How did you get into sports betting?

It started when I was a kid, when you and a friend can’t agree on something. You’re always competing against one another, always watching sports, it was little small betting. Like you’d bet lunch, dinner, when you’re a kid. Or a candy bar or a bag of chips. But when you get a little bit older, a teenager, I bet you a dollar, two dollars. And then once you get to the big-boy league, you become an adult, you get to sportsbook betting and that’s how it all started for me.