Nevada Gaming Commission Likely To Take Up Remote Wagering Changes This Year

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Nevada mobile sports betting apps

Bettors in the 49 states outside of Nevada might be able to set up and fund mobile sports betting apps from Las Vegas casinos as early as this year, LegalSportsReport has learned.

Proposed regulatory changes submitted to the Nevada Gaming Commission in February would enable remote registration for all account-based wagering, including sports betting, according to CG Technology’s Quinton Singleton, who submitted the amended proposal.

Remote is only so remote

If the proposals are adopted, bettors across the country would be able to download a mobile sports betting app, set up an account with that app, and fund the account from wherever they were located.

They would not, however, be permitted to place actual wagers until they complete a one-time, in-person verification step at a corresponding, Nevada-based sports book or casino property.

Wagering on single-game events would still not be permitted outside the state of Nevada, pursuant to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA).

CG’s regulatory push is representative of its larger goal of bringing more liquidity into the sports betting market. It also underscores the company’s desire to even the playing field for account-based gaming, and to revise gaming standards so that they’re more consistent with modern technology and consumer preferences.

Currently, sports betting app account set-up and funding are restricted to the state of Nevada, while horse racing and poker app set-up and funding are not.

New rules would bring registration system up-to-date

While the current set-up process for an account is relatively expedient—between 10 and 30 minutes at most books—it is a decidedly twentieth century one. Bettors must fill out a paper form in front of two sportsbook employees, who serve as witnesses. Bettors then often fund their account on the spot with cash on hand.

According to Singleton, if the new regulations are adopted, a bettor would avoid waiting in line and filling out paperwork at a sports book if they set up their account remotely, and could “verify” their identity with any gaming employee on the property, not just a sports book employee.

Individual operators at that point would be able to choose how they would complete the verification, be it by a bettor physically showing the employee the app on his or her phone, providing the employee with identification, or providing a wagering account number. Bettors would only need to complete this step once, unless they’ve neglected to use their wagering app in the last 18 months, Singleton said.

Multiple officials involved in the process who asked not to be identified said that a public hearing on the updated 2016 proposals would likely take place in either late spring or early summer, and that they had a good chance of passing at a Nevada Gaming Commission hearing before the end of the calendar year.

In-person verification unlikely to go away

The February proposals follow a 2015 effort by CG that would have made remote account set up and funding entirely remote.

Singleton introduced the first proposed amendments for the process on March 2, 2015. Those aimed at “harmonizing” the registration process for bettors and would not have required that bettors complete the final, in-person verification step, meaning eager out-of-towners would have been able to wager on their mobile phone as soon as their plane touched down on a Silver State airstrip, or as soon as their car crossed into state lines.

In that filing, CG justified the push to regulate all account-based gaming by noting that it would produce ancillary benefits of developers being able to build and test apps to a common standard when it came to tackling player identification, geolocation and account funding.

After workshopping the proposed changes with different sportsbooks and enlisting the Nevada Resort Association’s help at soliciting further feedback, Singleton said books ultimately felt more comfortable implementing the final in-step verification process because “it gave a heightened level of compliance in terms of checking the patrons and knowing who they are, which is important to all the casinos.”

He added that enabling bettors to wager without ever having to physically go to a gaming property and identify themselves wouldn’t be ideal from a regulatory compliance or consumer protection standpoint. He said the February proposals “get us 90 percent of the way there.”

2016 proposed regulations remain somewhat unclear

While the proposed 2016 regulations have not been made public, they’re believed to closely align with the 2015 proposal, which both limits deposits on remotely-funded accounts to $5,000 and does not allow for withdrawals until a patron’s information has been verified.

It’s unknown exactly what personal information bettors would have to disclose under the new regulations in order to set up an account remotely. But under the similar 2015 proposal, bettors were required to disclose:

Operators had 30 days from the time of registration to verify that information. In the event the information was unverifiable, operators would retain any money the player had won since they opened their account, and refund the balance of the initial deposit.

Streamlining and simplifying the setup process for mobile wagering also implies an investment by gaming companies in the mobile space. And in the event sports betting becomes legalized outside the state of Nevada, a convenient betting option in the palms of consumers’ hands could exponentially increase wagering activity throughout the country.

Mobile sports betting as a percentage of Nevada’s overall handle has grown from 13 percent in 2012 to 29 percent in 2016. And according to Eilers & Krejcik, a gaming research firm, that percentage could reach 50 by the year 2020.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, 40 percent of William Hill’s annual betting handle, for example, comes from mobile devices.

The largest gaming companies in Nevada, including CG, William Hill US, Station Casinos, Boyd Gaming and others, all run mobile gaming apps. The Wynn and the Westgate’s independent sportsbooks both recently launched betting apps, and MGM, another independent book, is reportedly developing an app as well.