06/28/2001 11:00PM

Phone-bet regulations kick in July 30


LAS VEGAS - Nevada sports books have until July 30 to get their phone betting systems in compliance with regulations requiring verification that all calls originate from within the state.

The rule has been in place as long as phone wagering has been allowed, but the Gaming Control Board has found that current systems haven't been foolproof and want the books to close the loopholes. The Mirage, Stardust, Stations Casinos, and Coast Resorts, the casinos with the biggest phone-betting operations, would be most affected.

Jerry Markling, deputy chief of enforcement with the Gaming Control Board, said there are three systems for books to choose from: a Global Positioning System that tracks the origin of a call from a satellite; a paging system that would only work within a certain radius; and a program that uses specialized dialing software to track betting over a home computer.

"I don't know of anyone who is looking into the Global Positioning System," Markling said. "Most are going with the pager system."

Nevada bookmakers see this as another in a string of regulations that make it harder for them to do business. While more and more bettors are taking their action off-shore - where there is less regulation, less paperwork, and higher limits - Nevada continues to make it more inconvenient for bettors and more work for the sports books to follow the rules.

It is a double-edged sword. Nevada's sports betting industry is under heavy scrutiny these days, and the Board wants to keep its reputation of being heavily regulated and controlled. The last thing the state wants now is a scandal to put its legal sports betting industry in jeopardy.

Book Notes

One bookmaker who has an extra reason to hope college betting continues is John Avello, race and sports book manager at Bally's. Avello is hoping to revive his College 101 contest, which wasn't run last year.

* Jonathan Jester, race and sports book director at the Las Vegas Club, recently won the celebrity division of the Hotbox handicapping contest on a local radio station. Jay Kornegay of the Imperial Palace, Buzz Daly of Players Choice and Players Guide magazine, and the "Handicapping Cabbie" tied for second place. The also-rans were Avello, Doug Castaneda of the Stardust, Norm Kelley of Sam's Town, and Ron Frazier of KSHP AM-1400, which hosted the contest. But Jester wasn't gloating about his victory or his celebrity status. "I have never been called a celebrity before," Jester said. "What kind of world are we living in where I'm a celebrity. I'm just a humble race and sports book manager. I run a sports book 'of the people, by the people, for the people.' "

College coaches back betting ban

Twenty college coaches were in Washington, D.C., Wednesday to try to jump-start the Amateur Sports Integrity Act, the John McCain bill that seeks to ban college sports wagering in Nevada.

The rhetoric was the same, with the coaches arguing that betting on "kids" is wrong and that gambling hurts the integrity of the game. Nevada's delegation made their case that the legal sports books in Nevada help maintain the integrity of the games by being a watchdog that exposes irregular betting patterns and catches game-fixers. Nevada's other argument is that only 1 percent of betting on college sports takes place in Nevada and the real problem is betting on college campus. They say the NCAA should clean up its own house first.

The timing of that point was driven home by a Knight Foundation Commission report that was released Tuesday that said there was a "disgraceful environment" in college sports.