Cellular Phone Prohibition Rings Hollow
Fall 2008

For more than a decade Nevada Gaming Regulation 22.135 prohibited the use of communication devices in Nevada race and sports books. Patrons were not allowed to place or receive calls on their cellular phones, nor could they transmit information via other such technological means while located within the books.

The rationale for the enactment of Regulation 22.135 was to prevent legal books from being used to facilitate illegal bookmaking. With the introduction of cellular technology, there was a fear that spotters could enter the books, review the lines and communicate this information to illegal bookies across the country. Likewise, there was trepidation that illegal bookies could transmit instructions back to their spotters to place “layoff” wagers. However, on Aug. 21, 2008, the Nevada Gaming Commission repealed Regulation 22.135, while reserving the right to review the decision after one year. There were four reasons for this repeal: technology, administrative burden, prohibition or inhibition, and substantial remaining protections.

As technology has progressed, the number of illegal bookies trying to layoff, or balance, bets by phoning wagers into Nevada’s legal books has decreased significantly. With the advent of real-time lines offered over the Internet, there is no longer any need for illegal bookies to have spotters enter the books to obtain the odds. Today, anyone in the United States can sit in his or her bedroom or living room and access a plethora of information available at a track or book.

Similarly, illegal bookies now can easily layoff large bets through the numerous online sports books located offshore. This methodology allows for easily perusing the lines for the best odds, laying the wager through an ordinary personal computer with an Internet connection, virtual anonymity, frustrating law enforcement by using international commerce, and a complete lack of regulatory oversight.

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