Local doctor denied massive payout on Kentucky Derby bets

Published: May. 15, 2019 at 4:48 PM PDT
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For ophthalmologist Steve Friedlander, the 2019 Kentucky Derby is one he will never forget.

Friedlander stopped at the Tamarack Junction and made several bets on the race, including an exacta bet, where you need to pick the top two horses, and a trifecta bet, where you pick the top three.

Before the race’s lengthy review, he thought he had lost all his bets, but when the decision was overturned and Country House was announced as the winner – he realized he had won the exacta and trifecta bets.

The trifecta bet combo of horses he picked was so unlikely, it paid 11,500 – 1. Given that he had $40 on it, that would pay him about $460,000. Combine that with the roughly $150,000 on the exacta bet, and Friedlander was set to win over $600,000.

“They looked at it and told me they have betting caps on these types of bets,” he explained.

That is because that book is not a pari-mutuel sports book, meaning they are liable for making their own payouts, without sharing revenue from other William Hill locations, so it’s that fine print that cost Friedlander his massive score – as they cap some of their bets.

“They told me that I won $35,000, which is amazing, but it’s a far cry from $600,000 I thought I had won.”

William Hill declined our request for an interview, but did release a statement:

"Because of the requirements of the gaming regulations, there are significant costs involved to offer pari-mutuel wagering in Nevada. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make economic sense to offer pari-mutuel wagering at all of our 115 Nevada locations.

"William Hill has 17 pari-mutuel locations in Nevada. At a number of additional William Hill locations, we offer booked wagering on the five major race days (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, and Friday/Saturday of Breeders’ Cup) as a convenience to our customers in a manner consistent with the gaming regulations.

"At the locations where we book these select races, we pay official track prices, subject to certain caps that are prominently displayed. Those caps, which limit exacta payout odds to 150/1 and trifecta payout odds to 500/1, generally are consistent or greater to those that have been historically offered by our competitors that book. The capping of booked race payouts has been industry standard for decades and allows race books to book without taking on unlimited liability, which no one would want to do.

"Tamarack Junction, a small casino in Reno, is one of the locations where we have booked the Kentucky Derby for many years. We congratulate our customer at the Tamarack Junction for his winning exacta and trifecta bets.

"The customer has the right to appeal to the Nevada Gaming Control Board but we are confident that we have fully complied with the relevant gaming regulations and had prominent signage alerting customers to the payoff caps."


Friedlander did not yet cash his tickets for the $35,000. He says he’s going to fight the case with Gaming Control Board.

“It's up to the Gaming Control Board. Essentially it's gonna come down to are their signs conspicuous enough or not,” he explained.

According to longtime bookmaker Chris Andrews, he may have a better shot with the control board than you might expect.

“Most people think that gaming sides with the casino, that’s not the case,” said Andrews. “They usually side with the customer.”

Friedlander says he is told he will get a decision in 45 days.

“William Hill is trying to position themselves as America’s sportsbook,” Friedlander stated in closing. “I just hope when other novices go in and try to make bets, they don’t run into this type of problem.”

The following is a list of all of the pari-mutuel William Hill locations in Nevada. If Friedlander had made the same bet at any of these, he would have been paid the full amount.


Circus Circus Hotel & Casino 500 N. Sierra St, Reno, NV

Grand Sierra Resort & Casino 2500 E. Second Street, Reno, NV

Lakeside Inn and Casino 168 Highway 50, Stateline, NV

MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa 55 Highway 50, Lake Tahoe, NV

Silver Legacy Resort & Casino 407 N. Virginia St, Reno, NV


Arizona Charlies Decatur 740 S Decatur Blvd, Las Vegas, NV

Jerry’s Nugget Casino 1821 Las Vegas Blvd North, North Las Vegas, NV

M Resort Spa Casino 12300 S Las Vegas Blvd, Henderson, NV

Plaza Hotel & Casino One Main Street, Las Vegas, NV

Silver Sevens Hotel & Casino 4100 Paradise Road, Las Vegas, NV

STRAT Hotel, Casino and SkyPod 2000 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV


Aquarius Casino Resort 1900 S Casino Drive, Laughlin, NV

Avi 1000 Aha Macav Parkway, Laughlin, NV

Edgewater Hotel & Casino 2020 S Casino Drive, Laughlin, NV

Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort & Casino 1650 S. Casino Dr, Laughlin, NV


Pahrump Nugget Hotel & Gambling Hall 681 S Highway 160, Pahrump, NV


Primm Valley Hotel & Casino 31900 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Primm, NV

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