11/30/2001 12:00AM

Calif. phone bets face delay

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The California Horse Racing Board on Friday adopted regulations to allow telephone betting to begin in the state in 2002, but the ongoing regulatory process will prevent a launch on Jan. 1, the first day telephone betting is legal.

The board approved 14 rules for telephone betting at a meeting in Davis, Calif.

A wide array of telephone regulations were discussed, including procedures and conditions for day-to-day operations, rules that will govern in-state and out-of-state betting hubs, and information required from customers. Rules were also adopted for placing wagers and withdrawing funds. Legislation allowing for telephone betting was signed by Gov. Gray Davis last August after he vetoed similar legislation in 2000.

According to CHRB spokesman Mike Marten, the regulations will be forwarded to the state office of administrative law when transcripts become available. The office of administrative law will have up to 30 days to approve or reject the rules.

Marten said the regulations were written in 14 segments so that if the office of administrative law rejects any of them, the others can continue forward in the regulatory process.

Following that step, the CHRB must approve contracts between phone operators and racetracks, Marten said. A vote on those contracts must be conducted at a public meeting and the board's next scheduled meeting is on Jan. 24 at Arcadia, Calif., Marten said.

"There can't be any telephone bets until the board approves an operator," Marten said. "Our staff has one application and several more are expected." The delay means bettors in California will have to wait until late winter - or later - before being allowed to make bets via telephone.

"I'm not sure they can fast-track that," said Jack Liebau, the president of Magna Entertainment. "I think you're in their hands and that's it."

Liebau said Magna Entertainment, which operates Bay Meadows, Golden Gate Fields, and Santa Anita, would have an announcement in coming weeks regarding a betting hub and television provider for its three tracks.

"Right now, I'm not in a situation to comment on that," Liebau said.

Hollywood Park, Del Mar, and Los Alamitos have an agreement with Television Games Network, which is based in Santa Monica.