LAS VEGAS — Jimmy Vaccaro has been taking bets in this gambling town for more than 40 years, so there’s not much he won’t put a price on.
That includes the chances of the U.S. Supreme Court opening the door to legalization of sports betting across the country — something Vaccaro couldn’t have imagined in 1976 when he first set up a sports book just off the glittering Las Vegas Strip.
“I make it an 8-5 favorite,” said Vaccaro, who operates the sports book at the South Point resort. “I feel good about it.”
For once there are some things to feel good about in the push to allow more Americans to do what people in Las Vegas have been doing on a regular basis ever since the point spread was invented — put a few dollars on their favorite team.
What was once no more than a distant fantasy edged a bit closer to reality Tuesday when the Supreme Court agreed to hear New Jersey’s bid to allow sports betting at casinos and racetracks in the state. That the court even agreed to weigh in on the case was cheered as a victory from a sports betting industry that has long been eager to expand outside Nevada.
“It would be a monster step for us,” Vaccaro said.
Monster step might be an understatement. The legal sports books in Nevada took in a record $4.5 billion in wagers last year, and it’s anyone’s guess how many more billions would be in play if some big states like New Jersey or New York get into the act.
And, really, it’s way past time.
Nevada has shown in recent years that sports betting — if properly regulated — is no threat…
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