09/23/2001 11:00PM

Cal board posts phone bet regulations


The California Horse Racing Board approved for public notice a slate of regulations governing account wagering at a board meeting last Thursday, kicking off a process that could have the rules in place by January, officials said.

The regulations are similar to those in place in many states where account wagering is legal. In August, California Governor Gray Davis signed legislation authorizing telephone betting effective Jan. 1.

The proposed rules will be posted for 45 days. On Nov. 30, the board has scheduled a hearing to address any concerns or recommendations of the public.

Following the hearing, the board is expected to reassess the rules before passing final versions by the beginning of 2002.

The rules do not address how many signals or races can be offered to California residents for telephone betting. Current regulations strictly limit the number of signals that can be shown in the state, and racing officials had wondered how the board would address the situation for telephone wagering purposes.

Jack Liebau, an executive with Magna Entertainment, which owns Santa Anita Park, Golden Gate Fields, and Bay Meadows in California, told board officials that he anticipated that racetracks and account-wagering operators would address the availability of signals through simulcasting contracts, board officials said.

The proposed rules would allow account holders to deposit funds to their accounts with checks, credit cards, or "other electronic fund transfer," but it would allow account holders to disallow themselves from making credit-card deposits. The regulations would also prohibit account holders from making more

than one deposit each "racing day" to their accounts.

"Basically, we are protecting people from themselves," said new CHRB chairman Alan Landsberg.

Major account-wagering companies are expected to battle furiously for market share in California, the largest Thoroughbred racing state, by total wagering, in the country. The regulations would require any operator licensed by the state to post a $500,000 bond to "protect the betting pools and the public" and "establish security access policies and safeguards."