12/16/2010 8:30PM

CHRB gives account wagering firms one month license extensions


ARCADIA, Calif. - The California Horse Racing Board voted on Thursday to extend the operating licenses of four account wagering companies doing business in the state for one month, through Jan. 30, contingent on the companies completing simulcasting arrangements and other contracts with racetracks by Jan. 1.

The operating licenses of Xpressbet.com, TVG, Twinspires.com, and Youbet.com were subject to renewal at Thursday’s meeting at Santa Anita.

The board could have extended the licenses up to two years but did not do so because the organizations did not have all agreements in place with horsemen’s groups and racetracks for the right to take signals. Each firm had at least one contract that was not finalized.

Twinspires.com lacks a labor agreement with the local pari-mutuel union, and horsemens' agreements with Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields for the meetings that begin at those tracks on Dec. 26.

Twinspires.com vice president Brad Blackwell said that his company is “discussing” whether to dedicate all additional revenue earned from the soon to be enacted takeout increase on exotic wagers on California races toward purses in the state, something the other account wagering companies told the racing board they were willing to do.

The higher takeout was passed earlier this year. The additional funds are expected to total $25 million annually and are mandated to go only toward overnight purses. The bill takes effect on Dec. 26.

When pressed on the issue by angry commissioners, Blackwell said, “I’m not the point person on this issue.”

Blackwell was told by commissioner Jesse Choper that “you might want to resolve it pretty soon. I don’t know that it’s fair for you not to do what the intention was to do. I urge you to get those discussions over with and get on board.”

Youbet.com is a subsidiary of Twinspires.com. The company acquired Youbet in a transaction completed earlier this year.

Racing board chairman Keith Brackpool said the higher takeout does not include provisions for additional revenue for groups such as breeders or racetracks, and that the money is to be dedicated to purses in an attempt to reverse declining ownership and field size in the state.

“We all hold hands together and jump,” he said, directing his comments toward Blackwell. “You don’t get to jump separately.”