The Bear Growls: Palms, Rampart, Cannery, South Point conspire to fix prices in sportsbooks

Competitors Palms, Rampart/Cannery, and South Point have conspired to attempt to fix prices at their sports books, to the detriment of the public.  Though the books will remain independent in their operations, they will have the same lines (i.e, prices) at all locations.  It is worth noting that these are competitors, not several locations under unified ownership, such as Harrah’s, MGM, Leroy’s, Cal-Neva, et al.

In this article, the books brag about how they will be able to handle heavier action. But what good are higher limits when the prices are fixed?

Bert Osbourne, South Point’s sports book director, will set the lines for the eight properties, but each book will continue to be owned and operated by its current owners.

Price Fixing, Bid Rigging, and Market Allocation Schemes:  What They Are and What to Look For

This is no different than the managers of Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and Target getting together and agreeing to charge the identical price on every item they sell. There used to be anti-trust laws; do they still exist?   Crooked businesspeople used to be prosecuted for scams like this; but these casino folks are doing it in the open and bragging about it.

Here is a chance for the Nevada Gaming Control Board to show it is at least a little bit more than a puppet for the casino industry.   It showed a little backbone in the recent  nightclub scandals, though it stopped woefully short by declining to recommend criminal prosecution. Will it meet the challenge and stop this despicable price-fixing scam, or will it roll over as usual?  Sad to say, my money is on the Board rolling over.  The casino patron gets the short end of the stick again.  Shame, shame, shame.  These characters wonder why Nevada had its biggest decrease in gaming win in history this year.  Lack of meaningful patron protection against casino wrongdoing, and the Nevada casino industry’s “screw the public” mentality are surely among the reasons.

If the Gaming Control Board refuses to stop this, perhaps it’s time for the U.S. Department of Justice to take action.


One Comment

  1. It is often said that there is no accounting for taste but perhaps there is! I would suggest the decrease in gaming win is the final accounting for taste. People choose to gamble and that means they choose where to gamble. Oh sure there are some exceptions and some constraints such as a compulsive gambler or a woman who decides that if her husband has selected Las Vegas for a vacation she is not going to let him go there alone. Absent some obvious constraints on selection, its the player who makes the choice. And whatever premium casinos offer or think that they offer, that premium is getting very thin.
    Screw the public? Well, we all know why the casinos ply their patrons with liquor. Screw the public? We all know alot of players don’t know Basic Strategy. Screw the public? I’ve never heard a stickman intoning Please Confine Your Betting to the Line and Odds Bets and Avoid These Sucker Bets in the Center.
    So to a certain extent it is Screw The Public … and price fixing in restraint of trade is buy one more twist of the screw.
    Perhaps that is why the much-hated Indian Casinos are still full. Why trek for several hours to get to Vegas if the screwing ain’t much different a half-hour away?
    Sure you can talk about product mix and customer mix … but if this screwing keeps up the Gaming Control Board will no longer be a gutless rubberstamp for a thriving industry. Those players are voting. They have been voting. They will continue to vote. They vote to go elsewhere with their money. Sportsbooks, slots, BlackJack, craps, … it makes no difference. Casinos that openly engage in collusive price fixing for their sports book are not really all that different from the complacent casinos who screw the half-inebriated tourist with their “loose slots”.
    The gaming control board’s loyalty is to the casino, not the player. And that is not going to change even if the casinos start dying.

Leave a Reply