Battling for books?

Jun 24, 2003 8:57 AM

The gaming software company VirtGame Corp. sees its latest deal to install its sports wagering systems in four casinos as an opportunity to use newer, simpler technology to challenge its competitor, American Wagering Inc.

The San Diego-based provider of lottery and other gaming-related software last week announced the installation of its sports betting systems in three Terrible’s casinos owned by Herbst Gaming in Las Vegas, and the Casino MonteLago at the Lake Las Vegas Resort outside Henderson.

Bruce Merati, president and chief executive officer of VirtGame, said the systems involve easy-to-use Microsoft Windows technology and laser printers and can be marketed through digital platforms, including Âí­Intranets and kiosks, and other casino games.

The VirtGame system installed at Casino MonteLago, for instance, is software-based and independent of the specific types of computers required by American Wagering, Merati said.

"American Wagering has had a monopoly for years" in Nevada sports books, Merati said. "You need to have their proprietary hardware, computers that they don’t manufacture anymore. We are entering into a new market."

American Wagering, which runs 41 Leroy’s race and sports books in Nevada, is the largest licensed operator of books in the state. The company, at 675 Grier Drive in Las Vegas, was founded in 1978.

The firm’s wagering system, called the Computerized Bookmaking System (CBS), involves a small, green-screened computer and is used in about 85 percent of the books in Nevada, American Wagering officials said. The company sells the entire system, including the special computers, to its clients.

American Wagering has also developed innovative sports betting kiosks, which are currently completing their field trial in Nevada.

The kiosks, which allow remote race and sports betting, should be available throughout Nevada prior to the football season, later this summer.

The company’s chief executive, Vic Salerno, and other company representatives were out of town and could not be reached for comment.

Merati said that MonteLago’s VirtGame system features, for the first time, flat screen technology to display race and sports book odds.

"Other casinos use LED boards, but these guys wanted flat screens," Merati said. "It’s something new and it’s cheaper. It really fits well with other flat screens they have in other parts of the casino. We use new language and software like Windows that work on any PC and server."

Merati said that the casino industry is shifting toward new, simpler technologies in their race and sports books and away from old technology that has been used for years in Nevada.

"When Terrible’s wanted to change, they came to us," he said. "The new casinos are coming to us for the new generation of software for race management."

The Herbst Gaming properties with the new VirtGame sports wagering systems include Terrible’s Hotel Casino, Terrible’s Town Casino and Terrible’s Lakeside Casino.

MonteLago, next to the Ritz Carlton hotel at Lake Las Vegas, is operated by CIRI Lakeside Gaming Investors.