Rebates on pari-mutuel racing wager divide race and sports book industry

23 August 2013

LAS VEGAS -- The Nevada Gaming Commission and Control Board learned Thursday there is a marked split among the state’s race and sports book industry as to whether or not rebates should be offered to customers who make pari-mutuel racing wagers.

Race and sports book operator Cantor Gaming supports the concept and wants the commission to draft a regulation allowing the activity.

However, representatives of nearly every large and small race and sports book in the state, including William Hill, MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts Ltd., Treasure Island and the LVH, showed up at the commission’s workshop session to oppose the idea.

Following the hearing, which lasted nearly three hours, the commission asked the Gaming Control Board to provide more information on the rebate issue by the panel’s October meeting.

Commissioners said they weren’t ready to decide if a regulation governing the activity should drafted or if they needed to tell state lawmakers the concept won’t work.

In the spring, the Legislature approved Senate Bill 425, which legalized pari-mutuel wagering rebates. The gaming commission has until January to decide if a regulation is needed. If so, the regulation has to be drafted by April.

Rebates are portions of wagers that are returned to players, win or lose, after a day’s racing card is completed.

Attorney Greg Gemingnani, representing Cantor, told the commission rebates on pari-mutuel wagers would revitalize horse race betting in Nevada, which has declined 37 percent since its peak in 2003.

Cantor presented figures that wagers to the commission that rebates could boost horse race wagering back to 2003 numbers.

Gemingnani told commissioner that race books could offer different forms of rebates, such as complimentary meals and entertainment that casinos traditionally offer customers.

However, Mirage general counsel Mark Russell, who was representing the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association, the trade group which negotiates rates with race tracks around the county, called Cantor’s figures “speculative.”

Russell said race tracks would increase fees they currently charge the race books for offering wagers.

He accused Cantor of wanting to control the market.

“I would hope we don’t give them the regulatory means to do that,” Russell said. “This would be a disaster for the industry.”

Las Vegas Dissemination Co., which brings in the television signals from the different race tracks supported the rebate concept.

However, William Hill CEO Joe Asher, whose company competes with Cantor to operate race and sports books for casinos, said the rebate idea wouldn’t work with Nevada tax structure.

Copyright GamingWire. All rights reserved.

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