10/01/2007 11:00PM

Board to push account rivals to cooperate

EmailThe California Horse Racing Board will attempt to make the racing signals from all California tracks available on every account-wagering platform that operates in the state beginning in 2008, the chairman of the CHRB said on Tuesday.

The push by the board is intended to address a situation that has frustrated many racing fans and some account-wagering companies over the past several years. Currently, racing fans who wish to wager on Thoroughbred races in their homes typically have to open at least two betting accounts in order to place wagers on all racetracks in the country.

Richard Shapiro, the CHRB chairman, said that the board would either require California racetracks to provide their wagering rights to every account-wagering company as a condition of receiving a racing license, or require account-wagering companies to share their signals as a condition of licensing.

Racetracks in California are licensed every year. The state granted three-year licenses to account-wagering companies at the end of 2004, and those licenses expire at the end of this year.

"Now is the time for us to address this issue," Shapiro said. "This has gone on too long."

Shapiro said that the California Horse Racing Board has the power to force the tracks and companies to share their signals under a broad section of state law that gives the CHRB "all powers necessary and proper to enable it to carry out fully and effectually the purposes" of the board's responsibility to promote horse racing in the state.

The account-wagering market is most significantly affected by a split between Television Games Network and Tracknet, which is a simulcast-marketing partnership owned by Churchill Downs Inc. and Magna Entertainment Corp. TVG and Tracknet have been unable to reach a deal that would allow each company to offer wagering on racing signals controlled by the other.

In California, TVG controls the wagering rights to Del Mar, Hollywood Park, Bay Meadows, Oak Tree at Santa Anita, and Los Alamitos, although TVG's contract with Hollywood expires later this year. Tracknet, on the other hand, controls only the signals from Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields. Both offer betting on the California fair meets.

Scott Daruty, the chief executive of Tracknet, said that his company would support any rule that forces TVG and Tracknet to share wagering rights.

"We'd very much accept that," Daruty said. "We've said all along that our goal is to get all content to all platforms."

Officials of Television Games Network did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday, but the company has previously opposed attempts to force shared content. TVG officials have previously said that any deal to share content should be matters for negotiation between account-wagering operators.

Shapiro said that any content-sharing rule approved by the CHRB would not delineate what percentages of the wagering revenues would go to each party.