The Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) approved Thursday, August 19 a two-year operating license for the state’s first peer-to-peer sportsbook, California-based start-up company ZenSports, with a sportsbook at Big Wheel Casino in Lovelock and another one at Baldini’s Sports Casino in Sparks.
Customers using ZenSports’ service can exchange cash for “Zen Tokens”, which can be bet against other users instead of a casino house. The company hopes to eventually accept other cryptocurrencies, although neither peer-to-peer betting nor cryptocurrency wagering are yet legal in the state. ZenSports hopes to bring both options in the near future.
The company received a 2-1 approval by the Control Board. Commissioner Rosa Solis-Rainey, the sole rejection to the approval, cited the fact that ZenSports hasn’t hired a compliance officer yet as a “troubling” issue, as well as expressing reservations in the overall development of the business.
“I don’t see this application as one where the company has demonstrated having the adequate experience or financing to warrant approval,” said Solis-Rainey. “Having an unrestricted license while still relying on outside resources is concerning to me, especially for a company of this size.”
On the other hand, NGCB Chair J. Brin Gibson described the company’s ambition to move to the state as “exciting,” saying that the two-year approval gives the company sufficient time to launch a successful operation.
“They have two years to get going, and I want to see them have an opportunity to go forward,” said Gibson. “They have 24 months to show to us what they’re all about, and I’m sure we’re going to be happy with that.”
“I can’t decide whether you’re dreamers or geniuses,” said Commissioner Steven Cohen, describing concerns about the company’s financing. Despite this, he gave his approval to ZenSports, citing as a decisive factor that the company has no debt.
“You’ve got two years to get this done right: shore it up, get a compliance committee and get your financing,” further added Cohen, who believes state’s approval will allow the company to secure backers.
ZenSports is a 15 employees start-up which previously had operations in Europe and Asia before ceasing them and moving to the US market. Mark Thomas, CEO and majority shareholder, said the company decided to expand into Nevada following a surge of sports betting.
The company currently has a little less than $1 million in funding, but Thomas believes this is likely to change in the future: “We have plans to raise millions and millions of dollars in the very near future and it’s not going to be any problem to raise those funds,” he said.
The company is also seeking licenses in other states, although those have been put on hold with the intention of securing entry into Nevada first.