NGC to OK interstate wagering

Feb 20, 2007 3:47 AM

Nevada race books are about to enter a new era, one in which they’ll be able to take bets for the first time ever from outside the state.

The Nevada Gaming Commission this week is expected to certify US OFF-TRACK LLC as the state’s first "call center," which would handle interstate pari-mutuel race bets, which were approved by state legislators two years ago.

Under the system, horse bettors will open up a telephone wagering account with a race book at which time he or she will be given an account number, the telephone number to call and a pin number to identify the player. When placing a bet, the individual will call US Off-TRACK, give an account number and a pin number to properly identify the person making the wager. The wager will then be processed just like others made at the race book.

At the recent Gaming Control Board meeting, US Off-TRACK was the first "intermediary" to be found suitable to establish a "call center" for Nevada race books. In addition to operating a wagering hub in Oregon, the company operates greyhound racetracks in Florida, according to Atty. Anthony Cabot who represented them.

"It is something new and something we believe will work" in attracting more wagering on horses, said Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander.

The state’s race books could use a boost. In recent months, their pari-mutuel handle has been stagnant and actually declined 2.8 percent in 2006.

Under the new law — Regulation 26C — bettors in states where wagering is permitted can set up credit accounts with Nevada race books.

Only telephone bets are currently permitted, although some race book directors have lobbied for Internet access as well. Online betting would require regulators’ approval.

At Wynn Las Vegas, race and sports director John Avello said his account wagering system is already in place and ready to begin taking interstate bets.

"We’re ready to start signing up customers right away," Avello told GamingToday.

Industry experts say taking interstate bets would level Nevada’s playing field with 17 other states that already permit some form of account wagering.

Even though the potential of interstate wagering is unknown at this early stage, some insiders believe Nevada casinos have a "unique advantage" in competing with account wagering companies such as TVG and Youbet.com.

"As a destination resort, Las Vegas casinos will be able to extend their services and offer comps and other incentives to interstate bettors," said David Lee, former board member of the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association.