04/30/2008 12:00AM

Belmont simulcast blackout in 16 states


The signal from Belmont Park's opening-day card was expected to be blacked out in most simulcast sites in 16 states because of an impasse with two cooperatives over the rate charged for the signal.

Hal Handel, chief operating officer of Belmont's operating company, the New York Racing Association, said on Wednesday morning that negotiations were still ongoing with the MidAtlantic Cooperative - which represents simulcast sites in eight states on the eastern seaboard - and the Southern Racing Cooperative, which represents 28 racetracks in eight states scattered throughout the midwest and the south. However, Handel said there was little chance any resolution could be reached in time for Belmont's opening race on Wednesday.

"We're optimistic that we will come to a resolution," Handel said. "However, even if we were to sign a deal this morning, it take some time. We would have draw up a list for the racing and wagering board and get that approved, and that can't happen in a day."

The impasse over the Belmont signal is one of three ongoing stalemates over signal rights that is affecting the availability of signals at simulcast sites and account-wagering platforms nationwide. Separately, Florida horsemen have blocked the signal from Calder from going to most simulcast sites in the country, and a group negotiating on behalf of horsemen for signal rights to account-wagering companies has failed to come to an agreement with Churchill Downs and Lone Star Park on wagering rights.

Like many high-profile racetracks over the past several years, Belmont Park has been seeking a higher rate for its signal. NYRA has also been under pressure from state legislators and regulators to charge a higher price for its signal, which is one of the most popular wagering products in the U.S.

The Southern Racing Cooperative represents racetracks in Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, and Texas. The MidAtlantic Cooperative represents tracks in Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.