Finally, sports bettors have a voice. And it’s getting louder every day.
A successful Las Vegas businessman and an advocate for sports betting, Gary Payne founded the International Sports Betting Association in January.
Four months later, the ISBA has more than 3,000 members from across the planet.
This is the real deal, not some goofball writer with an idea but not the means to take it to the next level.
A California native, Payne moved to Las Vegas in 2007. He has experience as an electronic sports consultant and game developer and has followed the sports betting and gaming industry closely for 20 years. He filed non-profit paperwork for the ISBA in mid-March, the Nevada Secretary of State’s office confirmed. He’s assembled a team, including legal representation and is busy allotting funds for lobbying in Washington D.C.
“I’m looking for people who are as passionate about this as I am,” Payne said.
Payne has been in communication with people throughout the industry, in Nevada and offshore. He’s communicated with bookmakers, Vegas professional gamblers and recreational bettors and says the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Most of the response has been that this long overdue,” said Payne, 41, and a regular at Cantor Gaming's, Las Vegas Hotel and Casino and other sportsbooks. “The feedback that we get back is invaluable. I believe you have to have a connection with everyone from professional handicappers to recreational bettors down at the book to the book operates themselves. The way I look at is the ISBA is not just to get the bettors what they want but also to grow the handle of every sportsbook.”
But Payne’s grassroots movement faces a tedious uphill battle against staunch, well-funded opposition, most notably the NFL.
“He’s got a tough, tough challenge ahead of him,” said John Avello, sportsbook manager at the Las Vegas Wynn. “It just seems like it’s very far off, if we’re ever going to see legalization outside of the states that were grandfathered in. Just because poker is taking strides, I don’t think sports betting necessarily is.”
That’s something Payne is determined to change.
“I can’t stand to see sports betting being left behind,” he said. “If poker’s whole argument is based on it being a game of skill, well, we can certainly make the same, if not better, argument for sports betting.”
Payne knows he has big challenge in front of him, but says he’s in for the long haul.
“I’m looking at this as a 10-year plan,” said Payne. “Sports betting is still the red-headed stepchild (of gambling). When they clarified the Wire Act, they mentioned sports betting specifically. That’s really hard to overcome.”
In December, the U.S. Dept. of Justice attempted to clarify the Federal Wire Act of 1961, saying it only applied to sports betting. The Wire Act is one of three main laws that must be repealed in order for Americans to be able bet on spots legally in addition to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) and the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
“People outside of the sports betting industry don’t understand what it is,” said Payne. “They don’t understand that it’s a market, similar to Wall Street.
“Plus, I’ve been betting sports for 20 years,” he added, “and I can’t remember the last time I heard about a line actually moving because of something shady. I know it happens, but it’s very, very rare. Regulating it would make those instances even rarer.”
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