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Best of Howard Stutz
Howard Stutz

Palazzo has sports bets at your fingertips

13 October 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Kelly Allbright of Atlanta quickly became a fan of In-Running Wagering, a mobile gambling system offered at Lagasse's Stadium sports book inside Palazzo. After a weekend of wagering on college and professional football, Allbright had made so many wagers using the hand-held device that he lost count.

Prior to the kickoff of Sunday's NFL afternoon action, Allbright still had $900 of his original $1,000 bankroll.

"If I'm losing, it allows me to cover my wagers and bet the other side," Allbright said of the device, which is a little larger than an iPhone. "I pretty much blew out the battery Saturday."

In-Running Wagering, dubbed "PocketCasino" at Palazzo and The Venetian, allows gamblers to bet on whether a team will make the next first down or make a field goal as well as the point spreads and money lines on selected games. On other games, just the point spreads and money lines are updated.

Las Vegas-based Cantor Gaming developed the system and introduced it in the spring at M Resort during the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

"If you can use a BlackBerry, you can use this," Allbright said.

A few tables over at the Palazzo, Gregg Layman of Panama, who works for an online wagering site, found the system similar to what Internet sports bettors are offered.

Layman won wagers the first two times he tried the system, taking the Cincinnati Bengals on the money line just before the team scored a last-second touchdown to beat the Baltimore Ravens. He also wagered successfully on New England scoring a touchdown against Denver.

"This is going to grow in popularity," Layman said. "I wish I could use it from home."

Danny Tubiolo of Rochester, N.Y., was hooked after the opening drive of the New England-Denver game.

"It's fun to bet if a kicker will make or miss a field goal," he said.

By letting customers bet as lines change throughout the game, In-Running Wagering drove up the daily betting handle at M Resort's sports book, which Cantor operates under a management contract.

At the time, Cantor officials thought the system was made for college and professional football because it offers more betting action.

"I think we're being proven correct," Cantor Gaming Chief Executive Officer Lee Amaitis said after the technology company brought In-Running Wagering to The Venetian and Palazzo sports books in time for football.

Mark Goldman, director of race and sports at the two casinos operated by Las Vegas Sands Corp., said he has seen interest in the product climb week by week.

"We have ambassadors working the room, handing out information," Goldman said. "Once people understand it, it's pretty easy to use. I think it adds to the excitement."

Customers check out the In-Running Wagering devices and place money on account to be used for wagers. On the tablet, betting lines are changed and updated throughout the game.

Gamblers cash out when the game ends and the device is returned. Technology allows In-Running Wagering to be active throughout the casino.

"Without giving away any proprietary numbers, we have easily seen handles well over six figures on certain games in which In-Running Wagering is used," Amaitis said.

Cantor designates only one morning and one afternoon game for In-Running Wagering, as well as the Sunday night and Monday night professional football games. Individual college games played on Thursdays or Fridays are also entered into the system.

"We try and find the games that we are pretty sure there will be a lot of interest," Amaitis said.

Goldman said the In-Running Wagering game can be switched at the last minute. Last weekend's planned afternoon NFL contest had been Atlanta and San Francisco, which turned out to be a 45-10 blowout win by the Falcons.

Luckily, Goldman said, Cantor switched the game just before kickoff to the more competitive New England and Denver game, which the Broncos won on a field goal in overtime, 20-17.

Cantor was the first company licensed by gaming regulators to bring hand-held wagering devices into Nevada casinos. In-Running Wagering is a product of that system. Cantor Gaming is a subsidiary of the worldwide financial firm Cantor Fitzgerald.

After its successful tryout with the NCAA basketball tournament, In-Running Wagering was used for the National Basketball Association playoffs, horse racing events and selected Major League Baseball games.

"We want to get people interested and we think the product will expand," Amaitis said.