Regulators OK high-tech cell system

May 31, 2005 2:14 AM


Nevada regulators earlier this month approved cutting-edge technology that will allow race and sports books to accept wagers from bettors via their cellular telephones.

The new "Find Me" mobile gaming technology is able to pinpoint the location of the caller via either global positioning or cell tower location.

"The technology can locate a caller within 10 meters of his location," Tony Fontaine, strategic consultant to the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association, told GamingToday last week.

The technology was approved by the Gaming Control Board’s Electronic Services Division following a successful 90-day field trial conducted by The Orleans Hotel and Casino.

The Find Me software is manufactured by Eliad Technologies, a California firm with offices in the United Kingdom and France.

Being able to accurately locate a caller is key to accepting race and sports bets from Nevada bettors via the telephone.

Existing phone bet systems require a bettor to carry a pager that a casino uses to verify a bettor’s location before accepting his bet.

Besides streamlining the process of accepting race and sports bets from Nevada customers, the new technology opens the door to interstate horse betting, which was authorized by Nevada lawmakers two years ago.

"We plan to use this same system for interstate horserace wagering, once the regulations have been approved," Fontaine said.

A source close to the Gaming Control Board said that "95 percent" of the regulations governing acceptance of interstate horse action have been written and that final approval could come this summer.

Two years ago, Nevada legislators approved a measure that would allow licensed race books to accept horserace bets from states in which account wagering is legal.

Once a body of regulations is in place, Nevada will enter the interstate horse betting business with Las Vegas Disseminator Company (LVDC) serving as the exclusive tote company.

At the foundation of any interstate betting system is a foolproof technology that would ensure where the bets are coming from.

That’s were Find Me comes in.

Fontaine said the system will work this way: If a casino such as Caesars Palace or Mandalay Bay has a customer in California or New York who wants to place a bet, that customer simply calls on a Find Me phone and places his bet.

Such a system would allow Nevada to compete for, say, California bettors, who now use companies such as Magna’s Express Bet, TVG and for phone and computer-based bets.

An official at LVDC said interstate account wagering could hike revenue in the state by as much as 40 percent statewide — while bolstering other gaming and non-gaming activity along the way.

"Nevada has a unique advantage," the official said. "As a destination resort, Las Vegas’ casinos will be able to extend their services and offer comps and other incentives to interstate bettors."

Because the federal wire act exempts horse racing from its interstate betting prohibitions, several states appear to be in play. Depending on one’s definition, as few as 12 or as many as 35 states would be open for business to Nevada.