California regulators, in an effort to stop out-of-state account wagering operators from taking bets from state residents, have excluded the Coeur d'Alene Casino in Idaho from importing upcoming meets at Bay Meadows and Hollywood Park. The manager of the casino said the situation would be resolved.
Roger Licht, chairman of the California Horse Racing Board, said regulators have indisputable proof that Coeur d'Alene has been taking wagers from California residents even though regulators received assurance from the casino it would not.
"We had a 'deep throat' guy come to us who was upset with Coeur d'Alene," Licht said. "We have print-outs listing California residents and their bets."
Only three wagering companies are licensed to take account wagers or telephone bets from California residents: Youbet.com, TV Games Network, and XpressBet. Because many out-of-state and international operations offer rebates, gamblers in the state are attracted to them, but Licht said they are violating state law and CHRB regulations.
The manager of the Coeur d'Alene account-wagering facility denied the charge and blamed a disgruntled customer. In addition to a phone block on wagers from California area codes, Diana Henry said her facility has instituted a requirement that betting applications be notarized along with identification. She said California regulators could audit the customer list if they like.
"What we are going to do is invite the California commission to come on down and inspect our facility," she said. "We have nothing to hide. We support racing. We'll get it resolved."
In approving the license applications for Hollywood Park, which runs from April 23 through July 20, and Bay Meadows, which races from April 2 to June 15, the CHRB said the exclusion of Coeur d'Alene would remain in effect until completion of its review. Both the Churchill Downs California Co. and Bay Meadows Operating Co. accepted the amendment to their license applications, which list all facilities that participate in their simulcast programs.
Licht said Coeur d'Alene accounts for about $150,000 a week in the California wagering pools. He wasn't concerned about losing business in the state.
"The players are players anyway, and they'll play at the racetrack or through one of our licensed operators," he said.
John Van de Kamp, president of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, said the state needs a system to audit out-of-state betting services to ensure they comply with California regulations. Of greater concern to the horsemen is the practice of rebating. Account-wagering companies licensed in California can't offer rebates.
Coeur d'Alene does offer rebates through its VIP club, Henry said.
"The TOC does not like rebating, and we think a number of these groups are involved in rebating," Van de Kamp said. "Our board has real concerns about them.
"We have people sitting up in the Sunset Room at Hollywood Park phoning in their bets to these places rather than walking 30 feet to a betting window. (Horsemen) get 7% of the on-track handle compared to 5% or 6% (through advance deposit wagering). It's hurting us."