AmWest Entertainment, which is headed by Kentucky businessman Nelson E. Clemmens, and Racing 2 Day, which is affiliated with Internet betting entrepreneur Vincent Caldwell, have both had hub license applications approved by the Oregon Racing Commission.
An official with the ORC said Feb. 20 that pending the completion of due diligence on the applications, both operations could be up and running sometime in the next couple of months.
“Both applicants have been cooperative and are looking forward to their launch dates,” said Gordon Tallman, ORC’s supervisor of account wagering hubs.
AmWest Entertainment, which lists Prospect, Ky. as its headquarters location, will offer financial rebates to its high-end customers, who Clemmens is targeting among those that annually wager more than $10 million a year.
“We have some key commitments already lined up,” said Clemmens, who hopes to have his Oregon operation launched by mid-March.
Clemmens said his wagering business model is based on transparency. To that end, he says AmWest Entertainment will install a dedicated administrative terminal that ORC officials can use to view wagering patterns, etc., and will offer audited financial reports.
“What I wanted to do is establish a service that really provides quality and security for horsemen, aspects that I feel are missing in much of the activity on the high-volume side,” he said. “We are domestic instead of offshore, and we always intended to be in a stringently-regulated venue such as Oregon.
“We really developed this business model so that the horsemen will have the strongest basis of input, and that we will be able to be a benefit to the industry rather than a black eye that seem to come from off-shore or sovereign-nation venues.”
Clemmens, who said his background is in corporate finance and investing, said AmWest Entertainment has some signal agreements in place, and is negotiating deals with racetracks and other content providers. He said he has approvals from TrackNet Media Group, the joint content consortium of Churchill Downs and Magna Entertainment, and the New York Racing Association, among others, and is hoping to sign contracts with them soon.
Racing 2 Day is affiliated with Caldwell, who is the former chairman of betinternet.com, an online and telephone sports book based on the Isle of Man. Tallman said Racing 2 Day will operate in Oregon under a sub-contracted license with US Off-Track, which operates the Paydog ADW in Oregon. US Off-Track was founded as The Greyhound Channel, which was a joint venture of three Florida greyhound tracks.
Attempts by The Blood-Horse to contact Caldwell and other officials with Racing 2 Day were unsuccessful.
The two new operations arrive in the wake of the pending surrender of IRG’s hub operating license in Oregon. IRG, which was an off-shore rebate shop located in Curacao, was closed Feb. 15 by its parent company, Youbet.com, from fallout of a federal investigation into some of its practices.
Tallman said the IRG situation had heightened awareness with ORC in regards to background checks and other due diligence.
“As a regulator, you are looking at what you can do to improve the process,” he said. “It’s a fair statement to say what happened with IRG is causing us to scrutinize things more than ever, and to look at ways to improve our methods.”
Tallman said the ORC’s next meeting in March will focus on education about rebating and computerized robotic wagering, among other topics.
Clemmens said he didn’t believe AmWest Entertainment had any customer commitments from former IRG players.
“Their demise is not an opportunity we are going to capitalize on,” he said.