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McCain expects scandal to spark anti-betting bill

WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Tuesday he does not know if he will revive a bill to prevent Nevada sports books from taking bets on college basketball and football games.

“Until there’s a scandal, we won’t pass it,” McCain said. “The gambling interests are too powerful. But there will be another scandal.”

If McCain chooses not to reintroduce the bill, it will be the first time in six years the Senate has not considered outlawing college sports betting at Nevada casinos. McCain first introduced the legislation in 2000.

In the House, Rep. Tom Osborne, R-Neb., former situs judi poker coach at the University of Nebraska, plans to try again with a betting ban similar to McCain’s, according to spokeswoman Erin Hegge.

Supporters of the betting ban say it is needed to discourage gambling on amateur athletes. But the legislation has been bottled up primarily by opposition from Nevada’s senators, who say the real problem is sports betting that is not regulated.

Making McCain’s task more difficult is that he is no longer chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, the panel that would vote on a proposed betting ban.

Not only is McCain no longer chairman, but Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, is. The relationship between McCain and Stevens is reportedly strained because McCain criticized the Alaskan for pork barrel spending during his term as chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

Stevens was asked about the sports gambling issue on Tuesday but declined to comment.

“Let me tell you, I do not talk about my committee in the hall,” he said.

But Stevens spokeswoman Melanie Alvord said he would schedule a hearing on a sports betting bill if one is introduced.

Nevada sports books accept wagers of more than $2 billion annually. About 30 percent of those bets are placed on …