04/06/2006 11:00PM

Horseplayers get own jumbo jackpot


For too many years, horse race bettors have been taken for granted while casinos spend huge amounts marketing to slot machine players. That inequity may finally be changing beginning on Monday.

That's when Station Casinos is starting a new horseplayer promotion called Jumbo Race Jackpot. Beginning April 10, lucky horseplayers at eight Station race books will have a lottery-style chance of winning from $5,000 up to $15,000 just for placing a horse bet.

"Of all the casino games, raceplayers sometimes get put on the back burner," said Micah Roberts, race and sports book manager at Sunset Station. "We really wanted to give raceplayers something for their loyalty."

Jumbo Race Jackpot is based upon a wildly popular existing slot promotion at Station called Jumbo Jackpot. There, slot players can instantaneously win from $100,000 up to $150,000 just by using their Station Boarding Pass card and playing max coins in the slot machine.

In Jumbo Race Jackpot, the requirements are pretty simple. Horseplayers, if they don't have a Boarding Pass card already, must sign up for one at a Player Rewards center. Then, whenever the person places a horse bet, he gives the card to the ticket writer who will swipe the card. You will know instantaneously if you've won a jackpot.

According to the rules, a guest is eligible to win once every 10 minutes. What that means is, for example, if you want to bet $20 to win on a horse, don't think you can make 10 $2 win bets hoping to increase your odds of snaring a jackpot. The computer registers the first swipe and then you're not eligible again for another 10 minutes. All you will do is tie up the betting line for horseplayers behind you.

The beauty of marketing to horseplayers is that betting on horse racing is the one game where the casino is 100 percent behind you winning. Once a horse bet is made, the casino holds a blended takeout rate of about 20 percent and would love for you to win money so you will have a bigger bankroll to bet again.

"That's why it's advantageous for the books to have as many regular players as possible and giving them a chance to win a big prize like this," said Roberts.

Also, Station is giving away signed copies of my newcomers' handicapping book "Betting on Horse Racing for Dummies" at all eight Station racebooks.

The book promotion will start on April 15, at Sunset Station and Green Valley Ranch, and continue through May 27. More details and a schedule of appearances by the author will be forthcoming.

Richard Eng is the turf editor for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and author of "Betting on Horse Racing for Dummies."