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Chris Sieroty

Nevada sportsbooks again taking horse-race bets

27 August 2012

LAS VEGAS -- Nevada's sportsbooks were taking bets on horse races Friday from tracks nationwide after the state's Off-Track Pari-Mutuel Wagering Committee and Las Vegas Dissemination Co. reached a deal on a new seven-year contract.

Nevada gaming regulators were urging both sides to reach a deal to avert a shutdown that threatened to take effect as early as Friday. There are 80 sportsbooks in Nevada that offer pari-mutuel wagering, according to the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association.

"We are very happy with the agreement," Cantor Gaming President and CEO Lee Amaitis said. "We are pleased not to have lost pari-mutuel wagering."

Terms of the contract reached Thursday during a Nevada Gaming Commission hearing were not disclosed. Amaitis, whose company operates seven sports books in Las Vegas, said the loss of pari-mutuel bets would have been a financial disaster for the state and for sportsbook operators.

Amaitis said that if a deal hadn't been reached, some sportsbooks might have considered booking their own pari-mutuel bets, which is "not appealing" due to being unable to offer the same exotic bets, including exactas and pick six, or the same odds that they now offer customers.

"We are glad it got resolved especially being that it's just in time for a big weekend of horse racing, with the Travelers at Saratoga and the Pacific Classic Sunday at Del Mar," said Dan Shapiro, marketing director for William Hill U.S. "It's good for the customer and sports book because they can bet into large exotics pools."

The LVDC, owned by John Gaughan, is the only facilitator of pari-mutuel wagering in Nevada. The committee, which is composed of 11 licensed pari-mutuel race books, is given the authority by gaming regulators to negotiate a contract on behalf of all Nevada sportsbooks.

Gaughan was unavailable for comment.

For a fee, the Las Vegas-based company disseminates information on races throughout the country and arranges for money wagered in Nevada to be included in the pari-mutuel pools at each track for every race.

Betting on horse racing is a declining business in Nevada. Of the $354.1 million wagered on horse racing last year, sports books retained $59.2 million, regulators say. By comparison, Nevada casino visitors bet $1.342 billion on professional and college football games last year.