A Nevada man could have won $600,000 on the Kentucky Derby, but it turns out his tickets were worth only $35,000.
It is a dispute that is now in the hands of the Almighty, aka the Nevada state gaming commission.
If there is any solace, such a conundrum for horse racing could not happen around here.
Horse player Steve Friedlander told the Action Network’s Darren Rovell that he went to the William Hill sports book at the Tamarack Junction Casino in Reno before the May 4 Derby and played, among others, a $40 trifecta box and a $100 exacta box. He bet more than $2,700 on the race.
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When Maximum Security was disqualified and Country House (at 65-1) declared the winner, with Code of Honor (14-1) second and Tacitus (6-1) third, Friedlander thought he was looking at 600 large.
His trifecta would have paid $459,024, and his exacta was worth $150,480.
But hold your horses.
Friedlander placed his bets at a non-pari-mutuel shop that sets a cap of 150-1 for exactas and 500-1 on trifectas. It’s legal, and William Hill-US says there is signage making customers aware of this policy.
“Because of the requirements of the gaming regulations, there are significant costs involved to offer pari-mutuel wagering in Nevada," the William Hill company said in a statement. "Unfortunately, it doesn’t make economic sense to offer pari-mutuel wagering at all of our 115 Nevada locations.”
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Such parlors do not exist in Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Delaware, at least not legally. (Exotic sports bets, such as 10-team parlays, could be subject to caps on maximum payouts. Always check with the 'book.)
The Borgata is the only casino in Atlantic City that takes action on horses, including Saturday’s Preakness Stakes. Most of the casinos in Pennsylvania are either linked with a horse track, (i.e. the three Parx locations or Harrah’s in Chester) or don’t offer horse betting. It’s too risky for the house to not be involved in the pool of money that would cover such a huge hit.
Delaware’s three casinos are connected to race tracks, as well.
The 20-13 exacta for the Derby paid $3,009.60 for every $2 bet. The 20-13-8 trifecta was worth $22,950.60 for every two bucks. At the pari-mutuels, that is.
Unfortunately for Friedlander, he is paying for convenience. A Google Map search found several pari-mutuel locations within 20 minutes of Tamarack Junction.
“The capping of booked race payouts has been industry standard for decades and allows race books to book without taking on unlimited liability, which no one would want to do,” the statement continued.
"Tamarack Junction, a small casino in Reno, is one of the locations where we have booked the Kentucky Derby for many years. We congratulate our customer at the Tamarack Junction for his winning exacta and trifecta bets.