From the Black Sox Scandal of 1919 to the World Cup betting scheme of 2014, sporting events have always been susceptible to those who would influence the outcome for financial gain. Organized crime has a long history of controlling illegal bookmaking across the country as well as fixing boxing matches.
In recent decades, Nevada’s race and sports book industry has done a great deal to maintain the integrity of sports by sniffing out attempts to influence games, as it did when it alerted authorities to the Arizona State point-shaving scandal in 1998. Sports betting is legal in only four states – Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana – but actually takes place in only one – Nevada. Yet, it’s estimated that illegal wagering is a $400 billion underground business. Today, as the NBA commissioner endorses legalizing sports betting across the country, questions about gambling’s influence on sports remain on the front pages.
Our diverse panel of experts will tell colorful stories from sports gambling’s rich history, provide insights into the biggest betting controversies and debate the future of sports gambling in America. Panelists include
Pete Bernhard, former Nevada Gaming Commission chairman
Barry Lieberman (moderator) legal expert on sports gambling
Art Manteris, Station Casinos, sports book director
Ted Sevransky, professional sports bettor and media commentator.
Pete Bernhard, former Nevada Gaming Commission chairman: Bernhard served as chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission from 2001 to 2014. During his tenure, he presided over the two largest combinations in Nevada gaming history (MGM-Mandalay Resorts and Harrah’s-Park Place Entertainment), along with numerous licensing proceedings for newly constructed facilities (Wynn, Red Rock Station and South Point Hotel Casino) and for transfers of existing properties throughout Nevada. The commission recently evaluated regulatory concerns presented by Internet gaming, by gaming expansion into new jurisdictions and by the progression of server-based gaming, mobile gaming and other technological advances. In 2013, the first online, intrastate poker games began, following the Nevada Gaming Commission’s approval. Bernhard, a practicing attorney in Las Vegas since 1976, received his bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University in 1971 and his juris doctor degree from the National Law Center at George Washington University in 1975. Today, Bernhard is of-counsel to the Nevada law firm Kaempfer, Crowell, Renshaw, Gronauer & Fiorentino, primarily handling business litigation and real estate matters. He also lectures regularly in continuing education and training programs for the State Bar of Nevada, UNLV and the Executive Development Program at the University of Nevada, Reno. Bernhard is working actively with Governor Brian Sandoval’s office to develop possible compacts with other jurisdictions to regulate interactive gaming.
Barry Lieberman, legal expert on sports gambling: A longtime Las Vegas attorney, Lieberman has prosecuted illegal bookmakers and defended individuals charged with illegal bookmaking. He has filed petitions on behalf of the South Point hotel-casino to change Nevada Gaming Commission regulations to permit cell phones to be used in sports books and to permit sports books to accept wagers on Olympic sporting events. After earning his law degree from Rutgers-Camden Law School in 1977, Lieberman served as an attorney in the Justice Department’s Tax Division in Washington, D.C., and as an assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Las Vegas. He was vice president and general counsel of Coast Casinos from 1996-2006 and currently is employed as the chief development officer of the South Point. Lieberman has been betting on horse racing and sports for more than 40 years and has had the opportunity to meet some of the greatest legal bookmakers and sports bettors in Nevada.
Art Manteris, Station Casinos, sports book director: Regarded as one of the foremost authorities in the sports gaming industry, Manteris is the vice president of race and sports book operations at Station Casinos, where he oversees 18 sports books across Southern Nevada. Manteris oversaw the design and development of six new, expanded or remodeled race and sports books for Station Casinos at its Red Rock, Green Valley Ranch, Santa Fe Station, Sunset Station, Fiesta Henderson and Aliante Station properties. Manteris was also instrumental in creating and overseeing the company’s Sports Connection program, an intrastate, PC-based wagering system, as well as W.I.N. (wagering information network), its computer wagering system. Before joining Station Casinos in 2001, Manteris was with the Las Vegas Hilton and later its parent company, Park Place Entertainment (today Caesars Entertainment), where he oversaw nine sports books on the corporation’s behalf. He also served in various sports book capacities for Caesars Palace, Barbary Coast, the Stardust and Fremont hotel-casinos. Manteris oversaw the first computer networking of race and sports books in Nevada history in the late ‘80s and has been a policy contributor to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Nevada Gaming Commission, Nevada Resort Association and American Gaming Association.
Ted Sevransky, professional sports bettor and media commentator: Known in the sports betting world as “Teddy Covers,” he has been a Las Vegas-based professional sports bettor since 1998. He has appeared on ESPN, CNN and CNBC, and in the New York Times, Wall Street Journaland Playboy magazine. He appears on ESPN 1100-AM on the “First Preview” show, 10 a.m. weekdays. He also appears on Yahoo Sports Radio the hour before kickoff on Saturdays and Sundays. He is featured in a 2013 documentary called “Life on the Line” about professional sports betting in Las Vegas.
Despite its legalization in Nevada and the proliferation of underground wagering, sports betting continues to be a controversial and politicized issue. Some insiders argue this ongoing controversy has wide-reaching implications.
“There is a common misconception among politicians and members of the general public that bookmakers are involved in the fixing of games,” explains Lieberman. “In a state like Nevada where bookmaking is legal, the bookmaker has the opportunity to alert authorities when unusual betting patterns occur. Where bookmaking is illegal, the bookmakers can’t alert authorities without incriminating themselves. That is exactly why the transparency of licensed and regulated bookmakers is actually a positive for the professional leagues to deter games from being fixed.”
Adds Manteris, “The two greatest blunders in the history of U.S. gaming were the support of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which helped create the offshore online gaming industry, as well as prohibiting the expansion of legal sports wagering into other states.”