The Rio Resort hopes to have successfully walked the line in pari-mutuel wagering between state of the art technology and good old fashioned horse sense.
"Some of our racing bettors told us jokingly not to get too many terminals," said Dave Pemberton, race and sports book manager at The Rio. "There will always be people, who like to go to the window. Half the fun is the interaction with other players and writers. Plus, you can get your bets back immediately, cash in hand."
Pemberton and the Rio don’t want to lose the "family atmosphere" they have created over the years, but understand that progress meant installing Interactive Player Terminals (IPTs) to provide instant information to their customers right where they are seated.
"A lot of people are into all the information they can get. This provides it for exacta and trifecta pools when you want, instead of when track provides it. We have one in nonsmoking and one in smoking. We would probably install 6-to-10 as business demands. That might be within six months to a year."
The IPT system is not new to Las Vegas, but there aren’t many available to the public across Las Vegas.
"As far as the Harrah’s operation, Chris Eggers put in some at Ballys and Paris Las Vegas," Pemberton said. "Chuck Esposition at Caesars Palace is doing the same. As demand goes up, more will be added. I know we at the Rio have seen our race handle increase month by month."
Basically the IPT is the Daily Racing Form on computer.
"The terminal gives the bettor instant access to individual tracks, race conditions, how many horses are in the field, anything you want," Pemberton said. "The screen is capable of showing six tracks at once and a total of 20 as you scroll through the pages."
Bettors can view any late changes and place bets without having to go to the window,
"It’s paperless with all the money going to an individual’s account he sets up with the race book," Pemberton said. "We usually start that account at $500, but will probably lower that minimum amount as we add more machines."
The IPT system is only available in race books, but Pemberton believes you will start seeing some of these machines used in sports wagering by the end of the year.
"We’re talking about getting self-betting machines for sports as well at the Rio," Pembeeerton said. "I would say in six months to a year, we’ll have two here. Definitely before the start of the 2008 football season."
The Rio book as just 54 seats, but Pemberton likes the intimacy and the new addition of VIP seating to the revamped locale.
"We enjoy knowing our customers and don’t want the book to be too large," he said. "We take care of our good players and make sure they have a seat for the big events."