New Jersey gaming regulators apparently want to make sure none of its sportsbooks ever bend over backward too far for a high roller.
Under proposed changes to the Garden State’s sports betting regulations, sportsbooks would be barred from accepting bets over $5 mm. There’s no indication that any New Jersey sportsbook has taken a bet anywhere close to that figure, but the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement seems interested in being cautious. However, it’s definitely not impossible that a sportsbook has already taken a multimillion-dollar bet. Collectively, the state’s books have already taken more than $1.25 billion worth of bets.
“No wager in excess of $5 million can be accepted for any reason,” read a line in the 106-page document of proposed regulatory changes. It’s known that the median wager on DraftKings Sportsbook in New Jersey is less than $10, so the limit is relatively astronomical and probably will have no impact on anyone’s bottom line.
The DGE is seeking written comments from the public by March 8, before potential adoption later this year. The public can email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Benefit for New Jersey
The most obvious reasoning behind a $5 mm max bet is protecting the integrity of games or matches. The larger the wager, the more incentive there is for illegal shenanigans, especially in a individual sport like tennis, boxing, or MMA.
But regulators may have another reason to place a limit even if there’s nothing shady going on involving the wager. The Garden State’s industry is only about seven months old, and regulators are obviously interested in the optics of the new industry. One doesn’t have to look back very far to find an example of a casino making the mistake of taking a cunning high roller’s action when it probably shouldn’t have.
Poker legend Phil Ivey and the Borgata casino are still entangled in a multi-year court battle after the casino bent over backward to his demands at the baccarat table. The casino later determined that Ivey had “edge sorted” to give him a small but significant statistical advantage against the house. The casino is still trying to recover about $10 million from Ivey.
Sports betting and baccarat are two totally different games, but the idea here is that catering to the demands of a high roller with significant clout can be risky for a casino, and New Jersey regulators might be interested in putting a cap on some of that exposure for the sports betting offering.
Though New Jersey’s sports betting market is hot, there’s quite a bit of competition among the casinos, racetracks, and their respective sports betting partners. In this environment, it could be tempting for a book to take an astronomically large wager.
Max bets in Las Vegas?
The proposed $5 mm max bet in New Jersey is just one example of stricter regulations in New Jersey compared to Nevada, the only state that had sportsbooks prior to last year. The Silver State’s sports betting regulations do not have a wager limit, but a wager in the ballpark of $5 mm has never been made public in the history of Las Vegas sports betting, if it has ever happened at all.
One of the largest known bets in Las Vegas history belongs to billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who once bet $2.4 mm on a Super Bowl game, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal (paywall). That’s nearly half of what the proposed New Jersey limit is, so one can see that the $5 mm cap is pretty generous.
Las Vegas sports betting legend Billy Walters told 60 Minutes in 2011 that the biggest single bet he ever made was $3.5 mm on the 2010 Super Bowl. He said it was his largest bet “by far.” The $5 mm limit in New Jersey still gives the sportsbooks plenty of room to take action from the biggest casino whales around.
Pennsylvania’s regulations also don’t mention a multimillion-dollar wagering limit. Delaware, which had limited sports betting prior to PASPA’s demise, also doesn’t have a cap, but its regulations state that the Delaware Lottery “reserves the right to determine the minimum and maximum wagers on all sporting events.” New Jersey is unique with its proposal for a regulation setting a specific cap.
According to the American Gaming Association, there are just two states (Colorado and South Dakota) that have maximum bets for commercial casinos. In Colorado it’s just $100, while in South Dakota bets are capped at $1,000. The Centennial State has already indicated that it would be interested in raising that limit for a sports betting industry. South Dakota would probably keep its $1,000 limit for sports betting.
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