08/08/2005 12:00AM

Dispute over Ohio signals


Several Ohio racetracks and the state horsemen's association have reached an impasse on the sale of the tracks' signals to account-wagering companies one week before the current agreement is set to expire.

If further negotiations are not successful, the signal from River Downs and Beulah Park would not be available through many account-wagering companies, including the sites operated by AmericaTab, a collection of account-wagering companies owned by Beulah and River. The current agreement expires on Aug. 15.

Officials of the Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association were scheduled to meet Tuesday to address the issue. Gus George, the president of the association, said Monday that horsemen are concerned that purses have stagnated in Ohio despite recent growth in account wagering.

"Our fan base has grown all over the country, but our purses have gone down," George said. In reference to Internet betting sights and account-wagering companies, George said, "They have a right to make their living, but it's a sport where the horsemen put on the show, and there should be enough money to put us back in the category where we can grow our purses."

Michael Weiss, the general manager of Buelah Park, called the current agreement "more than generous," and said that handle through account-wagering companies provided for $800,000 in purses at Beulah and River in 2004.

Weiss said that he is still hopeful that an agreement can be reached, but said he was waiting on the results of the horsemen's meeting on Tuesday. Weiss contended that many rank-and-file horsemen support extending the current agreement.- Matt Hegarty