08/22/2012 12:12PM

Las Vegas dispute putting race-book parimutuel betting in jeopardy

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Parimutuel wagering on Thoroughbred races in Nevada casinos is being put in jeopardy by a stand-off between the casinos and Las Vegas Dissemination Company, the casinos’ supplier of parimutuel signals and bet-processing services, according to officials with knowledge of the dispute.

Although officials would not confirm specifics, the dispute likely centers on the rate the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association pays Las Vegas Dissemination Company for bet-processing services.

If the situation is not resolved by Friday night, then racebooks in Nevada casinos “cannot legally participate in interstate common-pool wagering” beginning on Saturday, the day of the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in New York, according to a notice sent by the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association to its members, which include all the major racebooks in Nevada.

The two sides are scheduled to appear before the Nevada Gaming Control Board on Thursday in an effort to resolve the dispute, according to officials. The gaming board could order the sides to operate under an extension of the existing agreement to give the parties more time to negotiate, officials said.

Racebook operators have told racetrack officials that they plan to offer booked bets on races if the impasse is not resolved by Friday, according to Liz Bracken, the New York Racing Association’s vice president of simulcasting. Bracken said that she was not certain if NYRA or New York regulators would seek to stop the books from offering non-parimutuel bets if the impasse extended beyond Friday.

“I’m going to have to talk to our legal counsel, and I’m also not sure if our state would allow it,” Bracken said. “Right now my hope is that they reach an extension, at least through this weekend.”

In addition to the Travers card on Saturday, Del Mar will hold its highly popular Pacific Classic card on Sunday. For both tracks, the two cards are typically their highest-handling days of their meets.

Bracken said that Nevada casinos provide approximately $300,000 a day in handle on NYRA races, or about 2 percent of Saratoga’s average daily handle.

Nevada books abandoned booked bets 20 years ago in favor of offering parimutuel betting. Business in the books has declined markedly over the past 10 years as many of the casinos’ biggest bettors were lured away by account-wagering operators offering bigger rebates on handle than the racebooks.    

Patty Jones, the executive director of the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association, declined to comment on the dispute, but she confirmed that the parimutuel association had sent the notice to its members.

John Gaughan, the president and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Dissemination Company, did not immediately return a phone call on Wednesday morning.