A new Nevada State Senate bill would expand state law enforcement officials’ ability to fight illegal gambling by allowing them to wiretap underground bookies.

The proposed legislation, known as Senate Bill 46 and introduced in the 2019 legislative session in Carson City, would permit the state Attorney General’s office as well as district attorneys to apply for court orders for the wiretaps.

The intent of the bill is to help law enforcement officials stamp out illegal gambling operations, a common problem in the state.

Specifically, the bill would permit the Attorney General’s office and district attorneys to intercept communications in the course of investigating operations suspected of accepting wagers without a license.

Current state law provides prosecutors with the ability to apply for wiretaps in other kinds of criminal probes, including those related to property crimes or violent crimes. The new legislation would extend that purview to the realm of illegal gaming such as underground sports bookmaking operations.

Upon introduction of the bill in Carson City, Gaming Control Board Chairwoman Sandra Douglass Morgan told lawmakers that illegal betting operations are commonplace in Nevada, but unfortunately gaming regulators often do not find out about them until they receive complaints from victims.

Intercepting communications through wiretaps of bookies in the course of an investigation would allow law enforcement officials to get out in front of the problem and better safeguard the public.

Chairwoman Morgan’s vision is astute and absolutely correct regarding the monumental importance of eradicating underground sports bookmaking and other non-licensed gambling operations in Nevada. Not only are these illegal bookies a blight on our community and our state, but their very existence poses a threat to the massive and tightly regulated legal gaming industry that serves as the backbone of our state’s existence.

In his tenure as Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman from 1987 to 1991, John O’Reilly of O’Reilly Law Group made his name by insisting on a Nevada gaming industry that is pristine, transparent, fully accountable and free of even a hint of scandal.

At O’Reilly Law Group, we fully support efforts to preserve and enhance the world-renowned integrity of Nevada’s signature industry, gaming.