07/24/2002 11:00PM

California phone betting up

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DEL MAR, Calif. - Handle from telephone and internet betting rose to 6 percent of the total betting on California races through July 6, according to figures released at Thursday's California Horse Racing Board meeting.

Since the inception of telephone and internet betting in late January, the percentage compared to total handle has risen each month, according to John Reagan, a senior management auditor with the CHRB. The figures are expected to grow in August with stronger interest in the Del Mar meeting, which annually has the highest betting handle in the state.

Reagan told the CHRB that through July 6 betting via telephone and internet betting had reached $66.3 million. The bets are handled by three companies: TVG, Xpressbet, and Youbet.com.

Representatives from the three companies gave reports to the CHRB on Thursday, and provided more recent handle figures.

TVG has handled $33.8 million through its Oregon hub, according to vice president and executive producer Tony Allevato. He told the CHRB that the Oregon Racing Commission on Wednesday approved the removal of a tax - 0.25 of 1 percent - charged to California bettors. The monies will now be divided betweeen California horsemen and racetracks.

Xpressbet, a subsidiary of Magna Entertainment, has handled $24 milion through July 23, according to vice president Ed Hannah. He said much of the handle was generated during the Santa Anita winter-spring meeting. In recent weeks, Xpressbet has handled $300,000 to $400,000 weekly through its California hub, he said.

Youbet.com has handled $14.1 million through July 14, according to company officials.