Track worker charged with illegal betting


A former employee of Mt. Pleasant Meadows, who investigators said placed unsecured bets there, now is facing felony charges.

Christopher Lynn Collins, 21, was arrested Monday by Michigan State Police. He faces a preliminary examination in connection with 144 bets troopers said were placed illegally.

“There was no cash exchanged,“ said Sgt. Gary Green. “He was trying to pay off debts, was his excuse.“

Collins had been an employee of Mt. Pleasant Meadows race track. Investigators said he had been betting, but losing, and got in debt.

In an attempt to get out of debt, investigators said the man continued to place bets, even though he had no money to cover them.

He continued to lose, investigators said.

Under Michigan law, a track is not obligated to pay off an illegal bet, and a bettor is not obligated to make good on money owed if a bet is made illegally.

The track originally filed a police report in January. There was no indication of how long Collins had worked for the track.

Mt. Pleasant Meadows, in Isabella Township, offers betting on simulcast races televised from around the country. It also offers bettors an opportunity to try their luck on live horse racing in-season.

Last year, the Michigan Court of Appeals let stand an Isabella County Circuit Court decision that threw out a suit filed by the track against a gambler who didn’t pay up what the track said he owed.

In 1997, the track permitted the self-described “compulsive gambler“ to rack up about $545,000 in debts “on account,“ or bet with borrowed money. Account betting is not legal in Michigan.

Both local and appeals court judges ruled that bets weren’t legal in the first place, and it’s not legal to try to collect an illegal debt.

“Illegal gambling contracts are not enforceable,“ wrote judges E. Thomas Fitzgerald, Mark J. Cavanagh and Joel P. Hoekstra, “and loans made for gambling purposes cannot be recovered.“

It’s not clear to whom Collins owes his reported debt.

Super Bowl helps books avert disaster

The books are already eager for the 2005-06 NFL season to begin, figuring they weathered a potential disaster.

“The Patriots made everything right in the Super Bowl,” said Leroy’s spokesman Jimmy Vaccaro. “The fact that the books took a hit for three weeks in November makes for great copy, but if the books just keep writing tickets it works out well in the end.”

Black Sunday came during the middle of a three-week run in November when road favorites covered nearly 65 percent, with both wiseguys and regular players wagering against the underdogs.

“Most of the general public tend to bet favorites,” said Mike Kostich, supervisor of race and sports at the Rampart in Summerlin. “We didn’t feel the losses as badly as some of the books on the Strip, but there’s no question that the Super Bowl was a big winner for the house and made things equal.”

Many sports books at neighborhood bandarqq casinos were facing their “worst football season” ever, until the Super Bowl rejuvenated their bottom line.

The Super Bowl handle set a new record at $90.7 million, up from last year’s $81.2 million. The amount Nevada books won, $15.4 million (17 percent of the handle), also set a new record, up from last year’s win of $12.4 million.

“What happened this past year with the books losing so much early was an aberration,” Vaccaro said. “Normally, wiseguys and regular bettors don’t side together, but favorites did very well most of the season. It usually happens once every seven years or so when there is such a run of favorites. The books can handle underdogs going on a run, but when favorites do it that’s trouble.”

Kostich agreed, citing that parity in the NFL had much to do with the change in trend away from underdogs.

“It’s fair to say that parity is why books lost so early,” he said. “The lines were off the first three weeks and the bettors saw that a few teams were doing well covering as favorites and they stuck with them.”

Vaccaro noted that college football was a separate deal from the NFL and not affected by this past year’s pro trend.

“Leroy’s did well in college football as a whole because so many underdogs wound up covering,” he said. “The Super Bowl result made everything well. I don’t see the same thing happening this year. The favorites won’t cover as much, in my opinion.”

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