Updated on 02/10/2012 6:17PM

California Horse Racing Board hears exchange-betting concerns


ARCADIA, Calif. - Exchange wagering is unlikely to be launched in California in the foreseeable future after some racetracks and horsemen’s organizations expressed opposition to the implementation of the new style of wagering before a California Horse Racing Board committee on Thursday.

Commissioners David Israel and Richard Rosenberg heard four hours of testimony from a variety of groups at a meeting on Thursday, including Betfair-TVG, which plans to conduct exchange wagering, representatives of Del Mar and Santa Anita, and two horsemen’s groups – the Thoroughbred Owners of California and the California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association.

Israel and Rosenberg took no action to advance the rule-making procedure for exchange wagering, calling for further review from racing board staff.

“It seems to me this isn’t cooked yet,” Israel said at the conclusion of the meeting. “There are too many objections from too many important stakeholders. All the protocols and rules and regulations must be tied down. We’ll take the time we need before we get it done.”

Exchange wagering, which allows customers to post odds and accept wagers on whether a horse will win or lose a race, has not been legalized in the United States, but is a popular form of betting in the United Kingdom.

The two most discussed issues at Thursday’s meeting were the distribution of revenue, primarily the amount that goes toward purses, and concerns about integrity when horses are bet to lose a race.

While Del Mar and Betfair officials spoke in support of exchange wagering, Scott Daruty, representing three Frank Stronach-owned entities – Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita racetracks and the XpressBet account wagering service – said his parent organization was opposed.

Daruty said Golden Gate and Santa Anita will not offer exchange betting even if it is legalized.

Officials with the TOC stated concerns about the “financial model” and a potential negative effect on purses. Officials with both the CTHA and California Thoroughbred Trainers stated similar worries as well as concerns that the integrity of their members could be scrutinized for alleged wrongdoing, particularly when a horse is bet to lose.