Don’t accept bets on sports you don’t know, wagering consultant tells S.D. regulators


PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Gaming Commission gathered at the state Capitol for a daylong briefing on sports betting Wednesday.

They heard from Matt Toler, a consultant for Gaming Laboratories International. Both the Gaming Commission and South Dakota Lottery use the Lakewood, New Jersey, company for testing of gambling devices and management.

The commission intends to allow Deadwood casinos to start offering wagering on sports contests this fall. An official date hasn’t been announced. South Dakota voters amended the state constitution in November 58-42% to allow sports wagers.

Now the commission is getting ready for the start. One set of proposed rules was approved. A second group will be up for a public hearing July 14.

At the start of his presentation, Toler used the example of rugby scoring — an esoteric subject area for many people in the U.S. — to drive home some of his bottom-line advice.

“If we don’t know the rules of the game, we’re going to have a very difficult time winning. Furthermore, if we don’t know the rules of the game, we’re going to have a very difficult time regulating,” Toler said.

He said sports betting is “the most complicated, the most technically challenging” type of gambling.

Devices such as cell phones, computers, tablets and kiosk screens are a way for the commission to consider that casinos can take bets, he said, but the commission also must look at the technology that casinos use to process bets, such as cloud servers, and where those servers must be.

Toler said each “book” — casino — will submit policies to the commission for approval. He said each solution would be individually analyzed for approval.

What makes sports betting different is the randomness of each event, according to Toler, unlike slot machines that rely on random-number generators or shuffling a deck of cards.

“When it comes to gaming, what is the element of chance?” Toler asked. He raised his eyebrows amid silence. Then a smile started and his head began to nod. “Everything is a pretty good answer there, right?”

He went back to “that early root question” about whether regulators handle games with which they feel uncomfortable.

“Before we say yes, you can accept the wager on something, we ought to know something about the sport, something about the event, something about the integrity that’s being in place,” Toler said.

His suggestion: “Start with your big five, start with your baseballs, your basketballs, your NFL. Get the momentum behind you. Understand how things reconcile, show you the security concerns are being taken place, before we contemplate adding some of these exotic events, if you will.”



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