Indian Casino Denies Giving Rebates

The top executive of an Idaho Indian casino says his business is not stealing high-stakes players from racetracks by offering rebates, and is considering suing three racing organizations for damages. The Coeur d’Alene Casino, near Worley, Idaho, lost simulcasting signals from New York, New Jersey, and California within the past two months as punishment for allegedly paying rebates.

David Matheson, the casino’s chief executive officer, said the allegations are false.

“We have not paid one penny in rebates,” Matheson said. “It’s been three days and no one with any of these organizations will return my call. We want to see the evidence that we’re paying rebates.”

The Coeur d’Alene Casino lost its first signal during the last several days of the Hollywood Park spring meet. More significant action was taken by Monmouth Park July 1 when it cut off Les Bois Park, which offers simulcasting and is the hub for Idaho’s four off-track betting businesses. Finally, the New York Racing Association stopped its signal to the casino only on Aug. 5. Matheson estimated the casino has lost about $50,000, so far.

“We’ve tried to do this friendly way and just talk about it, ” Matheson said. “Now, I guess we have to do the unfriendly way. We need to make them prove what we’ve done wrong in court and pay lawyers a bunch of money.”

Drew Shubeck, associate general manager at Monmouth Park, said the track took action after agents for the Coeur d’Alenes had been discovered handing our brochures and business cards on-site. Shubeck said some Monmouth Park patrons called the tribe and reported to track officials that they had been offered rebates.

“The firsthand knowledge is what made us react,” Shubeck said recently. “We cut off the whole hub because we felt it was the hub’s responsibility to know who they are doing business with.”

Bill Nader, NYRA’s director of broadcast communications, said his association also had reports from credible people within the industry that the Coeur d’Alene’s were soliciting customers outside Idaho.

“That is crossing the line,” Nader said.

Matheson also is upset by reports that the tribe’s off-track betting business contributes nothing to Idaho purses or horsemen’s groups. In the casino’s contract with Les Bois Park, which is the hub, the casino pays 0.05% of its on-site handle to the state breeders’ fund and same percentage to a purse account for eight fair meets. In 1999, the casino’s on-site handle was $1,430,813 and the tribe paid around $71,541 to each of these funds. The casino, however, does not contribute any portion of its handle from telephone account wagering to purses or horsemen. Last year, the casino handled $13,609,466 through phone accounts, according to Idaho State Racing Commission records.