04/26/2017 4:13PM

Geolocating to boost purses

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ARCADIA, Calif. - Regulations allowing racetracks to identify wagers placed ontrack through account-wagering platforms is expected to enhance purses, but the impact will not be known for several months, according to a forum conducted by the Thoroughbred Owners of California last Saturday.

Some ontrack customers frequently bet online through mobile devices, such as telephones, laptops, and tablets, instead of through tote machines. For years, track and racing officials have looked on in frustration as those bets were logged as offtrack wagers through account-wagering systems and not recognized as ontrack bets, which provide significantly greater revenue for tracks and horsemen.

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Recent action by the California Horse Racing Board will lead to a new distribution of revenue in favor of racetracks, through commissions, and horsemen, through purses, on bets placed at racetracks through mobile devices. The locations of those devices can be tracked to identify whether the customer is on racetrack grounds.

TOC officials said the effect on purses may take months to determine.

“We’ll be gathering data on who is wagering and have a more comprehensive report by the end of the year,” TOC executive director Mary Forney said at the forum.

Account wagering began in California in 2002 and has been a source of growth in handle at a time when ontrack and satellite locations have seen a sharp decline.