05/02/2002 11:00PM

More time to make your bets

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If a proposed gaming regulation is approved, it will take the horse playing experience in Nevada one step closer to being at the track.

The Las Vegas Dissemination Company and the Nevada Parimutuel Association have proposed a new regulation that would make the cut-off time for accepting parimutuel horse bets when the starting gates open. The current regulation now requires that betting stops when the last horse enters the starting gate.

Under normal race circumstances, the additional wagering period would be extended only for seconds. But in the case of a delay at the starting gate, such as for a horse acting up or even a late scratch, the additional wagering period could extend into several minutes.

"For wagering purposes, it gives the fans added time to wager," said said Vinny Magliulo, director of corporate affairs for LVDC, which disseminates the television signal and betting odds to casinos. "Sometimes the horses even have to be unloaded and our race fans have not been able to participate."

Such is the case when there is a gate scratch. While bettors at the track are given a short time to cancel or exchange their wagers because of the scratch, their Nevada brethren are stuck with their tickets.

The proposed regulation is in its first stages in the regulatory process, said Magliulo.

"We have presented our input to the regulators, who have been receptive," said Magliulo. "Now they are in the process of reviewing it. It goes to the Gaming Control Board first. They will render their opinion. Then it goes to the [Gaming] Commission. We are confident it is a positive next step in providing the fans with the best possible experience in our race books."

Magliulo credited John Avello, race and sports director at Bally's and Paris Las Vegas and a leader in the NPA, with supporting the proposal.

The proposal surely would translate into increased parimutuel handle in Nevada. The vast majority of bets are made after the post parade is completed, which is usually at 10 minutes to post. This way, every precious second is squeezed out of the back end of the betting period.

"If you look at the history of post times in Nevada, it started with we had to lock races out at two minutes to post," said Magliulo. "Then it went to first horse in the gate. Now the machines are locked up with the last horse going into the gate."

Some old-time bettors told me that when Nevada hand-booked horse bets, the cut-off point used to be five minutes to post. This was done to prevent past posting of bets, best exemplified in the Paul Newman-Robert Redford movie "The Sting."

That no longer is a concern, Magliulo said.

"With today's technology, this would not compromise the integrity of racing or the betting product," he said. "What we are trying to do is make our product more user-friendly and consistent with the rest of the country, where the off time is the post time."

Richard Eng is turf editor for the Las Vegas Review-Journal and host of the Race Day Las Vegas Wrap Up Show.