11/15/2002 12:00AM

Nevadans okay with early lockouts


In the wake of the Breeders' Cup Ultra Pick 6 scandal, the business of simulcasting is undergoing much change.

The change most apparent to bettors is the move to close or lock out the parimutuel system a couple of minutes early. The best place to measure consumer response is in Nevada, where race books began taking simulcast wagers back in 1931.

"There are special qualities about horseplayers," said Vincent Magliulo, vice president of corporate development for Las Vegas Dissemination Company. "One is that they are very resilient and secondly they will adapt to change.

"This being a positive change to protect the integrity of the racing industry, the bettors have adjusted accordingly."

My own unscientific survey of race book players showed they were willing to go with the flow if the early lockout minimized the radical odds changes on horses during the running of a race. Many bettors joked that getting "shut out" more often would in the long run save them money.

"The fact that we remain on even par with everywhere else is important," added Magliulo. "We are interfaced to the tracks so the lockout is simultaneous with their lockout. The tracks have done a good job communicating with us and in turn we the job of communicating that with the industry in Nevada. The adjustment thus far has gone smoothly."

Nevada players who bet New York simulcasts will not be on complete even par with New York's ontrack players starting Dec. 4, when the New York Racing Association begins closing all simulcast betting at 0 minutes to post but allows onsite bettors and NYRA-One account holders to bet until a race goes off.

Magliulo lauded the Churchill Downs tracks with their 60-second countdown as a big help in communicating these changes.

"Nevada was the model for simulcasting throughout the country," he said. "That history has probably helped make this adjustment a lot easier for our patrons."

In 1931, ticket writers handwrote the horse bets. Twenty years later, Swanson News Service started the race wire via the UPI ticker tape using information provided by Daily Racing Form.

This was important because there were no horseracing signals of any kind back in the 1950's. The ticker tape led to callers doing race re-creations in the race books minutes after the result had become official.

If you've ever seen the movie "The Sting" with Paul Newman and Robert Redford, you'll get a feel for an old-time Las Vegas race book.

The first video of a horserace came into the Union Plaza in 1980. By 1989, the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association was formed, and the following year race books went online with the tracks.

Magliulo recalled that the wagering lockout in local race books used to be five minutes to post. As the technology improved, the lockout then moved from two minutes to post to first horse in the gate, then last horse in the gate, and most recently to the actual start.

So in essence, after more than 70 years of horserace simulcasting into Nevada, local players have seen most everything. Seeing the lockout time for wagering move forward a couple minutes is deja vu here. It literally is going back to the future.

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