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Sports Betting Blackberry App: Nevada Sports Gamblers Have An App For That

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LAS VEGAS -- Getting money down on your favorite sports team is getting a little easier in Nevada with the first-ever legal wagering application for smart phones.

It won't work in the U.S. outside the Silver State – the only place where sports gambling is legal – but its technology is sophisticated enough to let visitors from other states conveniently place bets while they're here, even if they're not inside a casino.

American Wagering Inc. is launching the program for BlackBerry devices in time for the start of college football and the NFL regular season. The public company, which operates nearly 60 Leroy's Horse and Sports Place sports books throughout Nevada, plans to launch new apps for iPhones, Droids, and Windows-based phones soon.

"I'm all-in on this," said Vic Salerno, American Wagering's chief executive. "We've reinvented the company entirely."

Salerno said it took 14 months to develop the application and get it approved by Nevada gambling regulators. Each version for other phone operating systems requires separate approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, which will scrutinize their security systems and other features.

The application requires bettors to appear at a sports book in person just once, when first creating their account with Leroy's.

That allows the company to verify a person's age and tie their account to one specific phone. When that person then logs into the system, a combination of GPS and cellular tower coordinates verify he or she is within Nevada's borders before allowing them to place a bet.

Placing bets on sports through phones isn't new in Nevada, said John English, the company's senior vice president for business development. A beeper system, affectionately known as a "wager pager," lets gamblers call in their bets and verify their position through a code sent to the beeper from a limited-range tower, he said.

Salerno and English said custom versions of the apps will likely be offered in future years to major gambling operators like Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Wynn Resorts Ltd.

An American Wagering subsidiary, Computerized Bookmaking Systems, Inc., currently supplies equipment and software for 85 percent of the race and sports books in the state.

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