10/30/2008 12:00AM

Hollywood revenue impasse goes on

Email

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - A contract dispute between the Thoroughbred Owners of California and four account wagering providers over revenue distribution showed no signs of ending on Thursday, leaving many out-of-state bettors unable to bet on Hollywood Park races for the second consecutive day via the Internet or telephone.

The four account wagering providers are TVG, Twinspires.com, XpressBet and Youbet.com. Other account-wagering companies were not affected.

It may be a while before the two sides reach an agreement. According to the California Horse Racing Board's chairman, Richard Shapiro, the state's racing board cannot compel the two sides to settle their differences.

"This is something that is beyond our ability to dictate," Shapiro said Thursday. "These are private parties entering into private agreements. I've met with them all. The problem is that while they have been communicating they can't close the gap and come to a solution that must be found.

"There is still a financial gap. I don't know how to bring them together. Our hands are tied in much of this."

The dispute centers on how to divide revenue from bets placed through account-wagering systems from out-of-state bettors on California races. The owners' group, which represents the state's horsemen in purse agreements, is seeking a higher portion of revenue. Account wagering is the only growing segment of the parimutuel market.

The impact is already being felt at the track's fall meeting. Wednesday, on the opening day of the autumn meeting, Hollywood Park announced a 6.25 percent cut to its overnight purses, effective Sunday. The cuts range from $1,000 to $5,000 per race for Sunday's program.

Wednesday's opening day had a preliminary all-sources handle of $5,312,580, of which $690,736 was generated ontrack.

"That was disappointing," the track's president, Jack Liebau, said of the handle.

The opening day of the 2007 autumn meeting had an all-sources handle of $8.1 million and ontrack handle of $1,103,950.

Pick six handle also is down. The pick six pool was $97,167 on Thursday, compared with an average of $139,221 on Thursdays last November, excluding Thanksgiving Day.

Liebau said that account-wagering handle was "down 50 percent" on Wednesday. He said TVG's handle was not badly affected because "they have a concentration of their business in California. Twinspires was impacted the worst. They have the smallest concentration of business in California."

He was unclear how long out-of-state customers will be shut out of account wagering, but worried about long-term ramifications.

"They're going to bet so many dollars and they'll bet on something other than California," he said. "Maybe some other track became their favorite track. That's the fear."