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My Monday blog (First draft)

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  • My Monday blog (First draft)

    Tell me something I don't already know.

    That's my standard line when meeting fellow bettors in the sports books of Las Vegas.

    Most recreational sports gamblers unwisely ask the imprecise question, "Who do you like?"

    Three problems with that query: 1) Most gamblers who have an edge in the betting marketplace are not visiting the sports book, 2) If winners are present, most of them are not interested in sharing their selections and 3) "Who do you like" is not the right question, but rather "Who did you bet and at what price?"

    Here are five things I know that even the most ardent follower of Nevada's race and sports book industry might not know:

    ---CG Techonology continues on its downward spiral.

    About two years ago, Irish bookmaking firm Paddy Power offered $75 million to buy CG Technology but the offer was turned down by then-CEO Lee Amaitis.

    Amaitis no longer works for CG Technology after two separate scandals cost the company a total of $7 million in fines, $5.5 million for illegal messenger betting and $1.5 million for the underpaying of customers.

    Now, Paddy Power has lowered its bid for CG Technology to $20 million and the parent company -- Cantor Fitzgerald -- has until March 15 to make a decision.

    Cantor Fitzgerald is a New York-based financial services giant and its leadership cannot be pleased with the failings of its Nevada enterprise.

    CG Technology will lose its location at The Palms by the end of summer and surrender its spot at The Cosmopolitan by the end of the year.

    An onerous contract with Las Vegas Sands, operators of both The Venetian and The Palazzo, hampered CG Technology from gaining the necessary momentum to compete here in Las Vegas.

    Insiders report CG Technology pays The Venetian $300,000 per month for the space to operate the race and sports book and the relationship between the two parties is frosty, at best.

    The main cage at The Venetian will not cash tickets after hours, forcing CGT to staff the book 24 hours a day.

    Drinks are billed to sports book at 80% of cost and The Venetian charges CGT $200 per day to clean up after the customers.

    ---William Hill adopted a different model from CG Technology when it entered Nevada's sports book business in 2012.

    The British bookmaking firm became the first of its kind to be licensed in Nevada.

    The company acquired American Wagering Inc., operator of the Leroy’s Horse and Sports Place franchise; Brandywine Bookmaking LLC, which has the Lucky’s sports book brand; and Sierra Development Co., which operates as Cal Neva Satellite Race and Sports in Northern Nevada.

    Instead of attracting high-end action like CGT, William Hill focused on the low-rollers with $2 bet minimums at the windows and 10-cent wagers available via the company's 83 kiosks.

    Any wager of $1,000 or more requires the customer to produce a player's card, though the policy is not enforced evenly at all of its more than 100 locations.

    With outlets spread across the state in remote locations such as Wendover and , William Hill often employs only one clerk per location which leads to many customer service problems, not the least of which is a sign that reads, "Lunch break...back in 30 minutes."

    Just yesterday, in a payout of a little more than $1,000 at the Alamo Truck Stop near the Silverton Hotel, a player was paid in all twenty-dollar bills, shades of the Caliente Sports Book operation in Tijuana, Mexico.

    ---At the aforementioned Silverton last week, a player was asked to leave the property unless he provided valid identification.

    Turns out, the player did not produce identification the previous week after a few of his transactions totaled more than $3,000.

    Most sophisticated sports bettors are familiar with the Bank Secrecy Act, which requires casinos to report any transactions totaling more than $10,000 over its normal 24-hour business day.

    So why if federal regulations require identification after a threshold of $10,000 would a sports book operation require identification after $3,000?

    Control? Harassment? Micro-management?

    Like The Venetian, the Silverton sports book is operated by CG Technology, a company not having a good day, week or year, for that matter.

    The humorous part of this story comes from the incompetence of the Silverton staff.

    The printer was not working in the sports book last Thursday and so the betting sheets and horse racing entries were not available the entire day for customers who visited the property.

    Why didn't the supervisory staff reach out to the Silverton management?

    Surely there was a functioning printer somewhere on property.

    Or why didn't the home office of CG Technology send along copies of betting sheets and horse racing entries to save the day for Silverton customers?

    Or how about a quick run to M Resort to grab some extra sheets in an emergency situation.

    Instead, the sports book staff at the Silverton was too busy harassing a loyal customer over silly in-house recordkeeping procedures.

    Oh, by the way, there were four employees behind the counter at the Silverton that day, double the number of customers present in the sports book at 3:00 in the afternoon.

    ---The Westgate SuperBook is viewed as one of the best sports books in the city, and for good reason.

    Jay Kornegay and his staff do a marvelous job keeping the struggling property afloat.

    The sports book handle continues to show steady gains and the betting menu is one of the best in the state.

    Only one problem with the operation is the precipitous decline in race book handle over the last four or five years.

    I'll allow a Westgate insider to tell the rest of the story:

    "The re-design is spectacular but horseplayers got the short end of the stick. The race book is positioned near the buffet and older horseplayers are now asked to walk a long way to make a bet. And here's the worst part of the situation: when the player finally gets to the window, he finds an inexperienced ticket writer who doesn't know the difference between a trifecta and Pick-3."

    ---I expect a track meet tonight at Orleans Arena where the Gonzaga Bulldogs and Santa Clara Broncos meet in semifinal round action of the West Coast Conference tournament.

    In the last four games in the WCC tourney, Gonzaga has scored