04/08/2005 12:00AM

Racetrack cuts off five rebate shops

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Keeneland Racecourse has cut off five simulcasting sites from its pools, track officials said Friday, the opening day of the track's 16-day spring meet.

Keeneland's president, Nick Nicholson, said the sites were cut off because of concerns about their betting practices, including the use of computerized wagering systems. The sites are some of the largest rebate shops that offer betting on North American racing: Racing and Gaming Services in St. Kitts, Euro Off-Track on the Isle of Man, a site run by the Tonkawa Indian tribe in Oklahoma, Capitol Sports in Australia, and Elite Turf Club in Curacao.

Several racetracks have cut off rebate shops over the past several months following the release of a federal indictment in January that accused more than a dozen individuals of running an illegal betting ring through a handful of the locations. None of the locations named in the indictment, which included Elite Turf Club, Tonkawa, and Euro Off-Track, have been charged with a crime.

Racetracks that have cut off the shops have said that the industry needs to know more about how rebate shops operate in light of the indictment. Nicholson echoed those views in an interview.

"Until the industry gets a national security office in place and an aggressive auditing system, we think this is best for our fans," Nicholson said.

Laura D'Angelo, the legal counsel for Racing and Gaming Services, said Friday that Keeneland notified RGS on Wednesday that the site would not be allowed to offer betting on the signal. She said the decision "surprised" company officials.

"Keeneland made no requirements of RGS prior to making [its] decision," D'Angelo said. "It's not as if they asked for information and we didn't give it to them. So we were surprised."

In related news, a racetrack implicated in the indictment, Lakes Region Greyhound Track in New Hampshire, will be put up for sale, with bidding closing on April 18, according to officials at the track. Two officials who work at Lakes Region were charged in the federal indictment.