Gambling conventions

Mini horse-betting parlor springs up

San Diego cops will have to keep their hands off the Del Mar races downtown.
  • San Diego cops will have to keep their hands off the Del Mar races downtown.

There was bad news for the San Diego Police Department vice squad when it asked the office of city attorney Jan Goldsmith whether there was a chance of passing city laws to regulate so-called mini-satellite horse-betting parlors. The first of the breed in San Diego has opened in the upscale Harbor Club condominium complex across from the convention center.

“Yes, you can now wager on the sport of kings right here in downtown San Diego with live wagering action across famous racetracks such as Del Mar, Santa Anita, Los Alamitos, Gulfstream Park, Keeneland & many other premier locations,” notes the Striders website. The 8200-square-foot establishment is run by Sportech Venues California, a subsidiary of controversial British-based Sportech PLC, which is planning to open a similar venue in Norco.

“In anticipation of future questions, you have asked whether mini-satellite wagering sites could be designated as police regulated and subject to police regulation if the City so desires,” wrote San Diego deputy city attorney Michelle Garland to police lieutenant Andrew Hoffman February 20. “Most likely, no. A court would likely find that licensing and operational regulation of mini-satellite horse race wagering sites is fully occupied by state law, to the exclusion of additional local regulation.”

In 2014, the city council of Carlsbad voted to ban mini-satellite wagering altogether following a staff report saying, “wagering may be addictive, involves cash transactions which enhance the likelihood of assaults and robberies...(and) may attract gamblers from outside the city.”

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