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Howard Stutz

Vegas sportsbooks accept wagers via Blackberry

3 September 2010

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Let's say you want to place a wager on the Monday Night National Football League opener between the San Diego Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs. But you're at work and you can't get over to the sports book before kickoff.

The answer may be as easy as your BlackBerry.

Leroy's Race and Sports Books launched an application to day for BlackBerry users that turns their smartphones into mobile wagering devices. The application, which was approved by Nevada gaming regulators, links a mobile phone into Leroy's wagering system, offering point spreads on college and professional sporting events.

The application can only be used within the borders of Nevada. An advanced Global Positioning System embedded in the application shuts down any wagering outside the Silver State.

"That's something we had to show gaming regulators about the application," said Vic Salerno, chief executive officer of Leroy's parent, American Wagering Inc. He said gaming regulators approved several security features within the application.

Computerized Bookmaking Systems, another subsidiary of American Wagering, developed the application over a 14-month period with the help of BlackBerry, which is owned by Canadian-based Research in Motion.

One challenge was creating applications for all the various BlackBerry models.

Salerno said Leroy's hopes to launch the application for iPhones, Droids and Windows-based mobile phones over the next six months.

"We really believe this application will change how people bet on sports," Salerno said.

Leroy's operates race and sports books inside some 60 casinos and clubs statewide, including the Sahara and Riviera on the Strip, Silverton, Hooter's and four casinos in Laughlin.

BlackBerry users on the Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile carriers can sign up for the account at any of the Leroy's locations. The application is received via e-mail or text message, along with an account number and password set-up. Information, such as account balance, open tickets and results are stored in the application.

The application allows the customer access to all of Leroy's active sports wagering lines, including straight wagers, parlays and teasers. On certain football games, the application allows customers to wager during the contest on changing point spreads.

Once a wager is made, an electronic betting ticket is stored within the application.

Customers can cash out winning wagers at any of the Leroy's locations.

Salerno said the idea behind the mobile phone application was convenience. Sports bettors sitting somewhere away from a casino, such as home or work, can make a sports wager without restrictions.

"It's the same as wagering at the book," Salerno said. "There are no limitations on where you can wager, as long as you are in the state of Nevada."

Unlike other mobile wagering systems, customers don't need to sign out for a device at a particular casino, which also limits where bets can be made. Salerno said not having to develop a hand-held wagering device for the product saved American Wagering both time and money.

"Most everyone has a mobile phone," Salerno said. "This device opens up mobile wagering in new parts of the state that never had it before."

One problem. The BlackBerry wagers are electronic and without a paper receipt, the age-old tradition of tearing up a losing ticket is no longer possible.

"I sure hope this doesn't cause people to break their phones instead," said John English, American Wagering's senior vice president of business development and public affairs.