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Horse racing fans can place bets on the Kentucky Derby, and possibly the Kentucky Oaks and other races on Labor Day weekend thanks to action Thursday by the Nevada Gaming Commission.

It signed off on Nevada’s sportsbooks booking their own bets and exotic wagers on those and other televised races through the Breeders Cup in November at Keeneland in Kentucky if there isn’t a contract in place for Nevada to pool wagers with tracks.

The commission action is in response to a contract dispute between the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association, the representative of the state’s race and sportsbooks, and Churchill Downs which has prevented horse race wagers for the track’s meet last fall and this spring.

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Marc Rubinstein, the association’s lawyer, said after the commission meeting that it’s likely in the coming days a formal request will be made to be allowed to take those bets not only on the Kentucky Derby that was rescheduled from its first Saturday in May date, but other races that day and the Kentucky Oaks day on Friday.

“We know it’s the Derby at least, and we believe it will be the Oaks,” Rubinstein said. “We’re trying to do the full race days from Churchill, but it remains to be determined.”

The books would pay out according to track odds, which was the old-school practice before Nevada race books pooled with tracks, Rubinstein said. Nevada books would have the ability to cap exotic bet payouts based on house rules.

“It’s going back to where Nevada started,” Rubinstein said. “This is only meant to be used in the most trying of circumstances. If we had a deal with Churchill Downs, this wouldn’t be happening.”

About the Author

Buck Wargo

Buck Wargo is a former journalist with the Los Angeles Times and has been based in Las Vegas as a business, real estate and gaming reporter since 2005.

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