New regs squelch
race & sports contests

Jan 6, 2004 7:34 AM

Horserace bettors who enjoy casino contests may be out of the running beginning Jan. 21, when new regulations go into effect radically altering how contests are conducted.

The new regulations are part of the Gaming Control Board’s massive Minimum Internal Control Standards, which sets the accounting standards for virtually every casino operation.

The new standard affecting race and sports contests requires that all entry fees, prize payouts, contestants’ selections and contest results be recorded in the casino’s computerized race and sports system.

Most of the casinos’ betting systems in Nevada are provided by Vic Salerno’s American Wagering. These systems process all wagers, and maintain accounting controls and records.

But many contests use hand-written entries that are processed by race and sports book staff. The new regulations effectively ban this kind of contest.

Perhaps most affected will be Station Casinos’ weekly handicapping contests, which often draw up to 600-700 and more contestants.

Although Station officials were unavailable to comment on Monday, race book staff said the last contest would be held on Wednesday, Jan. 14.

In order to comply with the new regulations, Station would have to come up with an acceptable computer processing system, such as American Wagering’s CBS computer system, or develop one of their own.

The latter is the road taken by the Mandalay Bay group of casinos, which conduct a weekly horse handicapping contest as well.

According to David Lee, race and sports director at the Excalibur, Mandalay has developed its own computerized system of processing contest entries, but that system has not yet been approved by the Gaming Control Board’s Internal Audit division.

"We’re waiting, we might even find out by the end of the week," Lee said.

Lee said he’s not sure what the fate of the contest would be if regulators failed to approve its software system. One option would be to have American Wagering to develop a software system that could be to handle the contest.

Regardless of what happens, Lee said the contest has been well-received by players.

"It’s been a great scenario for us," Lee said. "Customers seem to like the contest and it brings them in."

Other casinos that conduct contests with hand-written entries that could be effective include the Stardust, which holds a weekly handicapping contest for a $10,000 prize.

But because there is no entry fee (the contest is free), it is exempt from the Minimum Control Standards’ stipulations.