This cellphone betting thing could be fun

It took less than two minutes before I placed my first bet on my new BlackBerry.

Despite my excitement at being able to make a wager so easily, I’ve never been much of a gambler. Even before I began covering the gaming industry, the only time I would ever place a wager was at the horse races at Hollywood Park.

Believe me when I say $100 at the track lasted about 20 minutes, which is about the length of my attention span when it comes to gambling.

All things considered. I would rather play golf or watch an Arsenal soccer match on a Saturday morning than sit at a slot machine for hours hoping to hit a jackpot.

If anything could get me to gamble more, I thought it would be having a sports book on my cellphone.

But after an initial flurry of activity surrounding the NCAA basketball tournament, soccer games and Major League Baseball games, the BlackBerry lent to me by American Wagering Inc., parent company of Leroy’s, sat in my desk drawer unused.

I guess a $100 loss on the Arizona-Connecticut game in the Elite Eight may have had something to do with my lack of interest.

That quickly changed when I read online that British bookmaker William Hill had cut the odds on bets that manager Arsene Wenger would leave Arsenal next season from 10-3 to 11-4.

Sitting at my desk, I pulled out the BlackBerry and entered my password to log into my Leroy’s account, where $300 had been deposited.

Unfortunately, wagers on the future of managers in the English Premier League aren’t accepted. No worries, I think I’ll put $10 on Arsenal to win Sunday against Stoke City.

Before it went live in September, sports wagering using mobile applications was tested for several months by state regulators, and BlackBerry and Android apps are legal only in Nevada.

The challenge for American Wagering was to create a tracking system that would allow wagers only within state borders. The company developed a system for its Leroy’s app that triangulates signals from cell towers to pinpoint a user’s location within inches of the state line.

To test their security, I drove to Primm, where an attempt to bet on a Los Angeles Lakers game from just inside California failed. A similar attempt, in Arizona near Mesquite, also failed.

American Wagering, which was recently acquired by William Hill PLC, is also developing applications for Apple iPhones and iPads and Android tablets.

Placing a bet is a simple, multistep process. When I log in, I can see my balance, now less than $100. I choose a sport from a page listing everything from baseball to basketball and golf.

The application also allows for straight bets, a single sport parlay or a multi-sport parlay. To make a bet, I type in the amount and authorize it. Another window appears asking me to confirm.

It took about 10 seconds to validate my location and confirm my wager. Now with an account, I can add more money by going to a Leroy’s sports book or by calling the company with a credit card.

While American Wagering’s app now allows me to bet at my convenience, using a smart phone doesn’t replace being with a big crowd today at the Palms watching the 137th Kentucky Derby.

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893.

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