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Old 01-28-2007, 04:37 PM
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Default Sports betting on the go - "iSports Stand"

Sports betting on the go

By Liz Benston <benston@lasvegassun.com>
Las Vegas Sun

Like a brightly colored alien race descending for the Super Bowl, 8-foot-tall machines will be cropping up in casinos across Nevada, beckoning gamblers to make sports bets as quickly as withdrawing cash at an ATM or placing an order at a fast-food drive-through.

Called "iSports Stand," these sports betting kiosks are like ATMs on steroids. They feature large touch screens and video monitors that flash as many as 50 ads every few hours - pitches that historically haven't been welcome inside casinos.

Want a free beer or sub sandwich? How about a chiropractic exam or 300 bucks off real estate closing costs?

Besides the betting action, gamblers can click on ads that pop up on the screen, printing out 2-fo coupons and other offers from local mom-and-pop businesses and national chains.

Like other advancements in casino technology over the years, the kiosks - more than three years in development - will replace some work now done by casino employees and allow gamblers to place their bets faster and more conveniently.

The devices can go anywhere in a casino - near the buffet line or near retail stores . Winners will be given credits, which they can cash out with a cashier or use for more betting.

Like movie ticket terminals that have sprung up outside cine- plexes, the iSports Stand also has other functions for those who aren't wagering-inclined. Slip in some cash and you can buy a show ticket or book a tee time at the casino's golf course.

Bill Stearns, president of kiosk manufacturer ISI Ltd. of Las Vegas, says the machines won't fully replace the sports book experience.

"Similar to banks, bank tellers still exist and have their functions," Stearns said. "We're ATMs for sports books." Stearns said he expects sports wagering to increase overall as betting becomes more convenient.

As a rule, faster-moving games make more money for casinos. But there's a side benefit to 24-hour betting kiosks besides the fact that they don't take vacations or get sick. A 40 percent chunk of the advertising revenue from the sale of space on the touch screen as well as a video monitor at the top of the machine goes to casinos - revenue that can pay for the machine in a few months. Excluding that revenue, casinos pay $900 per month to lease the kiosks.

The company sold ad space on kiosks at the Rampart Casino in Summerlin in about 90 days, raising enough money to defray the rental cost, Stearns said. More than 30 Nevada casinos are renting the kiosks, including the Sahara, Riviera, Tropicana and the Silverton.

The machines were developed in partnership with American Wagering, a public company that owns more than 60 race and sports books in Nevada through its Leroy's subsidiary and supplies most of the hardware and software Nevada casinos use to process sports bets.

The ad money is the reason casinos are willingly giving folks like Findlay Toyota, Jersey Mike's and 24-Hour Fitness precious real estate on their floors. It's unlikely that those ads will compete for attention with ever louder, flashier slot machines, although if you look across the Rampart, you might well be able to spot a Coors Light ad or two playing on the video monitor above the level of most slots. If you happen to be using the machine or standing in front of it, you can't help but watch.

"It's a win-win for casinos and advertisers," Stearns said.

And for gamblers? "People who are technically inclined are using it, people intimidated by sports books are using it and the pros are using it because it's quicker and easier - you hit a few buttons and you're done," he said.
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