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Nevada casinos forced to book horse race bets

Jan 28, 2009 8:00 PM
Staff & Wire Reports |

Nevada race books and TrackNet, which represents several key race tracks, failed to negotiate a new agreement as of Wednesday morning, forcing the casinos to book their own bets without a TV signal.

"We’re hoping that we can somehow continue the dialogue and eventually meet at some common ground," said John Avello, director of race and sports at Wynn Las Vegas. "For now, players can still bet, but with limits."

  The contract between the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association and TrackNet, a simulcast-marketing partnership co-owned by Magna Entertainment and Churchill Downs, expired Dec. 31, but was extended through Jan. 25 to allow for negotiations. The tracks are pressing the casinos to pay a higher rate for its signals, but the casinos have balked.

Without an agreement, Nevada loses its TV signal to several key tracks and, more important, loses participation in those pari-mutuel pools.

The tracks affected include Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita Park, Golden Gate Fields, Laurel Park and Oaklawn Park.

Fair Grounds, owned by Churchill Downs, is covered under a contract separate from the expired agreement, and won’t be affected.

For now, horse players at Nevada casinos will be able to bet on the blacked-out tracks, but without benefit of watching the races or wagering into the pari-mutuel pools.

That means that most casinos will only pay full track odds up to a betting limit, say, $100 or $200 on straight bets (win, place and show), and cap the amounts beyond those.

Mark Dufty, race and sports director at Jerry’s Nugget, said the books will handle the races themselves, meaning different payouts.

"Every race book has different house rules," Dufty said. "Most books would pay full track odds up to a certain amount wagered. For instance, on the first $200 bet we would pay full track odds. Then it would be 20-1 on win, 8-1 on place, 4-1 on show."

However, players would lose the ability to bet into large pools such as the Pick Six and other exotics.

"My biggest concern is not having a television feed," Dufty said. "If people can watch the races on TVG, it would help immensely. If TVG is blacked out, I don’t see why anyone would bet the races. And it will get worse the longer it goes as Churchill Downs and Calder meets are coming up."

Station Casinos will be offering triple points to all who place horse bets in their race & sports books, beginning Thursday Jan. 29.

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