As unfathomable as it may seem there might not be any 2014 Kentucky Derby bets placed in the state of Nevada. In fact, there might not even be a video feed of the race available in race books in the Silver State. Unless a deal is reached between Nevada casinos and the Churchill Downs management over a new simulcasting deal there is a legitimate risk that there will be no betting on the Friday Kentucky Oaks or Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. There was no live feed from Churchill Downs for the first day of the spring meet this past Saturday and unless a deal is reached by Saturday it could prevent many properties in the state from being able to broadcast or accept wagering action on the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby is the biggest betting event of the year in horse racing and is a big event in Nevada casinos–they often hold other promotions in conjunction with the event in hopes of bringing additional traffic into their properties.
According to Patty Jones, Executive Director of the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association, negotiations with the Churchill Downs parent company are ‘ongoing’. Jones’ group represents 82 race books in Nevada. The Kentucky Derby is not the only race threatened by the lack of a deal–Friday’s Kentucky Oaks card could also be ‘off the board’ at Nevada’s betting establishments. The Oaks card isn’t as big of a betting event as the Derby but is significantly higher than a typical race day.
The simulcasting deal is a frequent topic of negotiation in the parimutuel betting agreement between race tracks and the Nevada race books. Churchill Downs increased their takeout earlier this year and usually they’ll raise the simulcasting fees in conjunction with such a move. Simulcast outlets keep the difference between the amount they pay for the signal and the takeout and that means an increase in the takeout fee without a corresponding increase in the simulcasting fee means greater revenue for the betting outlet with no similar upside for Churchill Downs. Nevada books have a few options–they’re still allowed to offer ‘booked bets’ on the race outside of the parimutuel pool.