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John Katsilometes

With betting on the fly, M Resort is the new Stardust

23 March 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- For avid sports bettors, it might be the greatest advancement in wagering since the advent of the drive-thru sports book. Unveiled over the weekend at M Resort is the first "in-running" sports betting, which allows bettors to wager on the action as it happens. No more needing to wait for the second-half total in a particular game. Hedging can happen on the fly. Watch your fortunes rise and fall with every change of the possession arrow.

I'm reminded of Drew Carey's line about drive-thru liquor stores in the South: "It almost seems like a good idea." But in moderation, of course (that's what the "When the Fun Stops" pamphlet tells us), the system should benefit both inventive gamblers and the hotel, which already has a sports book that rivals the city's finest for its ambience and cushy seating.

Offered, for now, are adjusted totals, the point-spread line and money-line number as the competition is in progress. Select NCAA Tournament games are the first to be made available for in-running wagers.

"All the sports lines will originate here," M Resorts Chairman Anthony Marnell III said yesterday during a phone interview. "It used to be the Stardust set the lines. Now, it's us." I've heard the M compared to many Vegas resorts, but this is the first time the Stardust has been mentioned, given that the hotel no longer exists. But when Marnell says M is at the forefront of sports betting, he's right. M is the first resort to offer the system, in which bettors can start an account at the casino and use a handheld device that looks a little like an old Tyco football game to post bets and keep track of his or her winnings. Or, in some instances, losings.

Marnell is partnering with Cantor Gaming in Great Britain, which won approval form the Nevada Gaming Commission in November to begin operations of the mobile system. The devices were tested first at The Venetian, and Cantor has been using this electronic system in Britain for more than five years.

M Resort Opens

"Everything can go through the handheld," Marnell said. "In the future, you will be able make more frequent bets, the quarter, the half, the inning. Software keeps a profit-loss table for you. Down the road, you'll be able to bet on just about everything."

Has the casino operator tried it out yet?

"Not yet," Marnell said (again, this was yesterday). "I'm picking my spots, doing some homework. But the time will come, I'm sure."

I'll bet he takes the over.

A moment from friends

The growing tension between our U.S. Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign over the AIG compensation-payment boondoggle in D.C. is certain to test the friendship the two lawmakers have forged over the years. (By "forged," we mean, "established," not "counterfeited," though sometimes you wonder.) Ensign is now calling for an investigation of the stimulus package for which Reid so forcefully campaigned. I'm remembering what Ensign told me the night of the Keep Memory Alive "Power of Love" benefit at the Bellagio last month. "We are good friends. When I had my car accident (in January 2006, in which Ensign and an aide suffered only a few bumps and bruises), the first call I got was from Harry Reid. When Harry had his stroke (in August 2005), the first call he got was from me."