Cell phone betting hits the Coast

Jan 17, 2006 3:08 AM

Phone account thoroughbred wagering without beepers: Brilliant!

After the first week of operation, the feeling has been "pari-mutuel" among the five Coast properties — the Gaming Control Board has done horse race wagering in Nevada a great service.

"It was just a matter of waiting for Gaming Control to give its approval," said Randi Muniz, race book manager at The Orleans. "All you need now is a phone, two Nevada IDs and a one-time $200 deposit."

Muniz oversees the phone account operation along with her peers — Lisa Correll (Gold Coast), Tom Timko (Suncoast), Johnny Spot (Barbary) and Mary Jungers (South Coast).

"We’ve had a wave of customers coming in and returning their beepers," Muniz said. "No more waiting to get a pin number and having to wait three minutes to get in a bet. We have been pushing the new system and are so glad it’s now in service."

The Coast properties are the only horse books in Nevada with phone account wagering and Muniz believes its future success will force the competing books to follow suit.

"Getting rid of the beepers really is a big thing in the horse racing end of the gaming business," Muniz said. "The next step down the road I would think is to develop out of state wagering. Right now that would involve individual negotiations with each state. As for now, we’re just glad to bring more bettors aboard in Nevada."

The advantages of pari-mutuel betting by phone are obvious — convenience, privacy, and frequency.

"Horse players can bet races at any track we cover," Muniz said. "People home watching TVG with kids all day no longer have to visit casinos for making bets. We had hundreds of existing phone accounts with beepers. Now, they can just return the beepers and re-apply."

The new system involves Coast employees on the other end of the phone calls, not that automated voice as is found in phone accounts involving sports wagering.

"We have a phone room and ticket writers there," Muniz said. "Customers will talk to live people. There are no limits as to how much money customers can bet and they will enjoy the speed at which all this can be done."

Each Coast property is offering one free lunch buffet to players signing up for the phone account wagering. Barbary Coast is also providing a $10 coupon for its Victorian Room.

"We at the Coast are happy to have an edge on the other books with this upgraded system," Muniz said. "Our hope is that advantage lasts a while."

Ticket writers will be accepting calls in the phone room daily beginning at 9 a.m. and running through the evening hours.