Betting Big John Avello of Wynn in Las Vegas: His Sportsbook’s Taking Action on World Series of Poker, Oscars Could be Next

This past week, the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas became the first gaming establishment in Nevada to accept wagers on a non-sporting event, at least non-sporting in the most common sense. Some people might know wagers can be placed on all sorts of non-sports related events online. Think things like the U.S. Presidential elections and American Idol. Much has been written about online gambling being illegal in the United States and whether or not it should be legalized. In Las Vegas, no establishment books action on anything outside the sports realm.

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CYInterview’s go to guy for wagering, Wynn sportsbook manager John Avello, tells us how the Wynn made history this week by taking bets on the first non-sporting event, the World Series of Poker Main Event.

“It’s something that we’ve been looking at and planning on doing and we decided that the poker was gonna be the first out of the box that had a chance with the gaming control board and so the gaming regulation board changed the regulation back about five or six months ago and the opportunity to do the poker just came up at this point. We put in for two months ago, we went back and forth…Eventually we got the approval about two days before the tournament started.”

Jon explained that the World Series of Poker became the first non-sporting event wagers were taken on by the Wynn sportsbook because the big stakes poker event results are witnessed by everyone at the same time.

“When a person is knocked out, chips are gone, everyone sees it at the same time. When a person wins, we see that person has all the chips in front of them and so everyone is observing the winner or the loser at the same time.”

Mr. Avello says, for entertainment and research purposes, he’s been casting odds on entertainment props for a long time. He said it is common for someone to come up and ask to wager on something like American Idol or even a dog in the Westminster Dog Show. Individuals who ask to make wagers on these non-sporting events are not aware the Wynn sportsbook, or any other Las Vegas gaming establishment, can’t take the wager. The Nevada Gaming Commission must approve every kind of non-sporting event action offered.

“I’ve been doing the reality odds for a very long time without actually putting them on the board and taking wagers on them. We’ve been doing those wagers for entertainment purposes for a long time and it’s popular, but without taking money on it, it’s still very popular. Our people come up and say, ‘Can I bet on that dog to win the Westminster Dog Show? I like that person to win American Idol.’

Those people come up and try to make those wagers. But it wasn’t something that we really thought we could get through and I think that was the reason. So that’s why the push to change the regulation. So we just needed that regulation changed to even pursue anything.”

Avello says what concerns the gaming board is the reality TV shows calling for people to vote, where someone knows the results before they’re actually announced. Conceivably, someone who knows the results could pass on who the winner was. A wager could then be made by an individual, getting a bet down before it went off the board. Avello said when the World Series of Poker Main Event gets down to the final table, they are going to try to offer odds on that, but they still have to get permission. As far as other non-sporting events, in the future, he says the 2012 Oscars is something he’s taking a look at.

“I think the next event you’re gonna see, we’re gonna be able to take wagers on is gonna be the same event. This is the World Series of Poker. We put up those propositions up before it started and we’re gonna be down to nine players within a couple of weeks and then we’re gonna most likely be able to post. That’s something we have to readdress again though. It’s not something we can just go ahead and do.

It’s something we have to go forward and in front of the board again and ask permission to do it. But I believe that’ll be the next event you’ll see will be the final table for the World Series of Poker. So what lies beyond that? I’m not sure. The Oscars would be the next major event, which is usually around end of February and I’ll probably take a look at it, but I think it’s more of a long shot to do that than the World Series of Poker.”

You can find out more about the Wynn Las Vegas at http://www.wynnlasvegas.com/

You can email Chris Yandek at [email protected]

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