03/06/2006 12:00AM

In-game betting on trial at Palms


Sports bettors here often complain that Las Vegas has fallen behind the offshore industry because offshore books offer a greater variety of wagers and have higher limits.

Rich Baccellieri, race and sports book director of the Palms, hears the complaints, and he agrees.

"The product here in Vegas has become stale," he said. "Too many places want to do the minimum, have the same lines as everyone else, and not take any chances. It's become too corporate. I hate to see that happen because I love this industry and remember the good old days."

So, in addition to the aggressive bookmaking style he has at the Palms, Baccellieri is doing his part in helping to bring something new to Las Vegas as the host of the Rapid Bet Live in-game wagering system. Using Rapid Bet Live, bettors can wager while a game is going on, on such things as adjusted point spreads and totals based on the progress of the game to that point, plus props such as which team will make the next 3-pointer or foul shot.

"It's a great addition because if someone arrives late and misses getting a bet down on the game, we can have them sign up and bet after the game has started," Baccellieri said. "This is the only place in Vegas you can do that."

Rapid Bet Live is run by Progressive Gaming International, which acquired the program when it bought out VirtGame Corp. last year. Progressive received approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board on Feb. 26 to start a 30-day field trial. During that time, which includes the NCAA tournament, the Palms will be the only casino offering the system. After the 30 days, and assuming no problems with the Gaming Control Board, Progressive can then put the system in other books.

The system is geared more toward recreational players looking to have fun, and that fits in nicely with the Palms's clientele. Professional gamblers aren't going to get rich because the most anyone is allowed to win on a given wager is $250, and the game offers 30-cent lines.

The Palms has devoted 12 betting stations in the first three rows of the race and sports book, with six individual flat-screen TVs to follow the action more closely. The trial officially started last Saturday night with 10 bettors, including me, taking part in the Duke-North Carolina game.

The system was easy to use, but you had to be quick as basketball is a fast game and the oddsmakers didn't fall asleep at the switch too often.

For the record, the first decided wagers were Duke to score first (-115) and the first score to be a 2-point field goal (-400, while a 3-pointer was offered at +300 and a free throw was +350).

It should be recognized that in the 1990's Vic Salerno of Leroy's Sports Book had a similar system called SportsXction. It failed, but those involved in Rapid Bet Live think that SportsXction was ahead of its time, and with advances in technology - and more customers increasingly comfortable with betting on a computer screen - that the time is right for such a game.

Scouting for next year

The Rapid Bet Live system certainly makes you look at the game in a different way. A piece of handicapping advice I heard recently does the same thing.

Scott Galvin, 47, is a professional bettor in Las Vegas and offers a tip to help college basketball bettors prepare for next season by paying particular attention now to underclassmen during the conference tournaments and the NCAA and NIT tourneys.

"With all the games on TV, you can see a lot of teams you haven't seen all year," Galvin said. "If I see someone who impresses me, I'll write it down."

Galvin said this approach helps him cut down on preparation time next year, as well as providing early plays in the season.

"The key is to try to be ahead of the oddsmakers," Galvin said. "By knowing what players are coming back, along with then doing the research in the fall, I'll have 10 to 12 teams that I'll be ready to bet on right away at the start of the season before the oddsmakers catch up on them."

Derby future book adjustments

With the Kentucky Derby preps and the parimutuel Kentucky Derby Future Wager held over the weekend, there was some movement in the fixed-odds futures here in Las Vegas but not as much as expected.

"Most of the horses did what they were expected to do, so while we saw decent action, we didn't have to change the odds too much," said John Avello, race and sports book director at Wynn Las Vegas.

Brother Derek was lowered from 10-1 to 7-1 off his victory in the Santa Catalina at Wynn (after staying at 10-1 in the KDFW). First Samurai was 10-1 before the Fountain of Youth and remained there after finishing second to Corinthian and then being elevated to first when Corinthian was disqualified. Corinthian, who was bet down to 15-1 in the KDFW, was lowered from 40-1 to 25-1 at Wynn after that race.

Avello said the other biggest move at Wynn on Saturday was on Sunriver, from 100-1 to 60-1, after an impressive allowance victory in Gulfstream's third race.

Sports book notes

Saturday night, the Palms also offered in-game wagering (or perhaps it should be called in-match wagering) on the Jeff Lacy-Joe Calzaghe super middleweight boxing match from Manchester, England. Calzaghe, the undefeated champion, was between a +130 and +150 underdog at Vegas books, but pulled the upset over the previously undefeated Lacy.

* In a different type of fighting on Saturday night, American Rich Franklin defeated Canadian David Loiseau as the -240 favorite in the Ultimate Fighting Championship 58, which was billed as "USA vs. Canada" at Mandalay Bay.

* In the Tennis Channel Open held in Vegas, James Blake, the 4-1 second choice heading into the tournament, upset No. 1 seed Lleyton Hewitt in the final match Sunday to take the title.

* Tiger Woods won the Ford Championship at Doral as the 7-2 favorite. That might be the highest odds we see on him in a while if he's back in winning form. He's already less than 3-1 (11-4 to be exact at the Las Vegas Hilton) at most books for next month's Masters.