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Best of Liz Benston

Gaming Guru

Liz Benston

Looking in on: Gaming

7 January 2008

NEVADA -- While other states fend off sports betting, Nevada is making it easier for residents to exercise their exclusive rights to bet on sports.

Just in time for the Super Bowl, Nevada's largest sports book operator now offers a sports betting kiosk for Las Vegas and Reno bars with slot machines as well as small casinos in those areas that don't have sports books.

That means you won't even have to go to your local casino to lay a bet on, say, whether the Cowboys or Packers make the Super Bowl.

The devices are a next step for the Leroy's Sports Books chain, which unveiled betting kiosks a year ago at its casino sports books.

Regulators were initially wary about the kiosks because of the potential proximity to minors in an environment that isn't as strictly monitored as casino floors. But the company assuaged those fears by placing the machines in adult-only areas of bars and by requiring account access, said John Salerno, director of Leroy's.

Bettors first set up accounts at Leroy's locations to place wagers, which is a similar process to existing telephone wagering accounts offered to Nevada bettors, Salerno said.

The Stadium Grille in Henderson is the first location to offer the kiosks, which are expected to spread after any potential glitches are worked out, he said.

Spurred by Steve Wynn's controversial policy that dealers share tips with their supervisors at Wynn Las Vegas, a long-expected voter petition to prevent employers from taking any share of workers' tips, filed Friday with the secretary of state by a dealer advocacy group, bears a close resemblance to the language of a bill drafted by Assembly Democrats in the past legislative session.

Casino lobbying killed that tip bill in the Senate after it passed the Assembly.

Democrats carefully drafted that language, on the advice of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, with the intent to cover all front-line workers in any business, not just dealers in casinos.

The language would amend state law to allow workers to enter into tip pooling agreements among themselves while preventing their employers from interfering in those agreements. It also would add enforcement provisions to the previous bill, giving workers the option of suing their employers rather than simply relying on the Labor Commissioner to take action over infractions.

Dealers now face the onerous process of gathering signatures statewide until Nov. 11. The Legislature would then choose to create a similar bill - or take no action, which would put the matter before voters in 2010.

Businesses generally have authority to dictate who can receive tips because few states have tip-sharing laws and federal law mostly regulates minimum wage rather than tipping. Bolder moves like Wynn's to split tips with managers have led to legal disputes and legislation in a few states.

After surprise wins by Democratic contender Barack Obama and Republican Mike Huckabee in the Iowa caucuses, you might be wondering whether they are the odds-on favorites to become the next president of the United States.

While political pundits flounder amid close polls and no obvious front-runner, those hot for answers can always turn to the sports books, where money - not political convictions or messy social issues - moves the lines.

According to many online books, Democrat Hillary Clinton is the heavy favorite for president, followed by Republican Rudy Giuliani.

Online sports betting has been pushed further into the legal hinterlands after the government's crackdown on Internet gambling. But that hasn't stopped the offshore books from running odds on presidential nominees and winners. (Nevada law prohibits real-money bets on political races and entertainment events, such as the Oscars.)

Some books are asking for $300 to win $100 on Clinton but only $100 to win $300 on Giuliani.