Bet the ‘Don’t Pass’ line on banning college betting

April 03, 2001 7:03 AM
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BETTING THE DON’T PASS! Despite all the rhetoric to the contrary, I’m betting they won’t pass the ban on college betting. It will not get enough support this time around. It’s a senseless measure that only targets legal betting parlors in Nevada. The Washington merry-go-round is elbow-to-elbow with pols looking for causes that they think won’t hurt them at home. Who really cares about Nevadans? Certainly not the mainstream. So, if you need a whipping boy, why not target Nevada sports books?

   AT LAST! The Fair Grounds and Harrah’s New Orleans Casino are smoking the same peace pipe. While three of Louisiana’s tracks have been delegated to have slots, Fair Grounds, one of the nation’s most venerable tracks, has been excluded.

   Why?

   Because of Harrah’s monopoly in New Orleans.

   Now a bill is in the works to give the slots OK to Fair Grounds.

   I’ll bet Bryan Krantz was a happy camper. He is president of Fair Grounds. The bill calls for the track to wait until July 2003 to turn on 300 slots. Knowing Krantz, I won’t be surprised to see it happen before then. At the same time, the Fair Grounds is holding hands with Lorne Weil of Autotote Corp. (TTE) to launch Net Bet Internet account wagering system using TTE’s track play Internet platform. In so doing, Krantz’ Fair Grounds becomes the first domestic racetrack to offer an integrated Internet and telephone account wagering service.

   The deal with Harrah’s would allow as many as 700 machines over a period of time.

   Way back when I was in the horse racing industry, I argued in vain to get the tracks to move in the casino direction. Krantz and a few others listened, but nearly everyone else was against it.

   There is apt to be opposition to the bill. Anti-gambling forces, however, are losing ground in Louisiana. Harrah’s land-based casino received a $50 million tax cut and an OK to add hotel rooms and restaurants.

   Louisiana moves slowly in some areas. Slots at tracks got the OK in 1977. So far, only Louisiana Downs has begun.

   What a joke! The book on the block would love it. Bettors who aren’t even bettors would be lining up to bet on something they’re not allowed to bet on. Bet on that!

   As far as the offshore bookmakers go, they must be lighting candles praying that the ban passes.

   I may be way off base on my thinking on this matter. But, hey, it won’t be the first bet I ever blew, nor the last. Stay tuned.

   LET’S HEAR IT for the Oneida Indian Nation. The tribe operates the highly successful Turning Stone Casino Resort in Verona, N.Y., 30 miles east of Syracuse. The Oneidas have made a deal with officials in Mexico to develop and manage Las Vegas-style casinos in Acapulco and Mazatlan. In so doing, they become the first American Indian tribe to negotiate a nation-to-nation diplomatic agreement for casinos outside the United States.

   Why not? The tribe has proven its casino prowess at Turning Stone. Talk about rags to riches! Their upstate New York casino is a big winner. It employs 3,000 people with a payroll of $63 million.

   Acapulco and Mazatlan are popular destination resorts. Casinos will only add to their luster. The tribe has played a major role during the past 10 years in sustaining the sluggish economy of upstate New York, which suffered a setback when the government closed the Griffiths Air Force Base in nearby Rome, N.Y. Turning Stone has 1,500 cashless slot machines and attracts 3.5 million visitors a year. The Oneidas spent $123 million with outside vendors, plus $20 million in capital expenditures. To think the 1,000-member Oneida nation had once been reduced to an impoverished band living on 32 acres. It now has purchased nearly 15,000 acres of surrounding land and has federal land claims pending for an additional 250,000 acres.

   How’s that for progress?

   SONNY AND BLACKIE and great pasta! What a triple! Sonny King and Blackie Hunt take the stage Friday and Saturday nights at the new The Bootlegger bistro on the Strip south of Belz Mall. Sonny sings pretty for the people. Blackie is a comedian and pianist. And, the kitchen turns out good food.

   DO YOU BELIEVE? I know I do. No one could ever convince me that there isn’t a Heaven for dogs. And, right now, I see little Frankie — just shy of two years — romping through the grass, digging up the flowers and chewing on anything and everything in sight.

   He was a tough little guy, always on the muscle. That was part of his charm. How was anyone to know a terminal illness was about to overcome him?

   Even though he leaves behind three other French Bulldogs to fill our lives with love, he will be sorely missed.