09/05/2006 11:00PM

Arlington signal held from TVG


The Illinois Thoroughbred Horse-men's Association denied Television Games Network the right to broadcast the Arlington Park signal on Wednesday, though the horsemen's issue with TVG concerns Hawthorne Race Course and not Arlington, according to Justin Cassity, executive director of the horsemen's group.

Cassity said the horsemen had denied TVG the Arlington signal in an effort to force negotiations between TVG and Youbet, the Internet wagering platform. In March, Hawthorne signed a contract making it an exclusive TVG track. An exclusivity agreement means TVG pays a track more for its signal, but the agreement also stipulates that Youbet must pay TVG a fee to carry the signal. Youbet carried the National Jockey Club meet at Hawthorne this past spring, but, according to Cassity, does not intend to carry Hawthorne's fall meet, which begins Sept. 15.

Neither TVG nor Youbet responded to repeated calls for comment.

Cassity contended that the loss of Youbet wagers could cost Illinois horsemen $500,000 in purse money. Cassity said he had spoken early Wednesday afternoon with John Hindman, chief counsel with TVG, urging a meeting between TVG, Youbet, and Hawthorne, but Hindman had not responded by late Wednesday. Throughout Wednesday, TVG broadcast the telephone number of the horsemen's association and Cassity's e-mail address, urging viewers to call the organization and complain.

Cassity said he didn't know how long the horsemen's group would continue its embargo.

"We can't absorb the negative economic impact this is having," Cassity said.

Illinois horsemen control the export of a racetrack's signal under the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978.