09/06/2006 11:00PM

Horsemen's dispute with TVG continues


A blackout of Arlington Park's races on Television Games Network continued for a second day Thursday, after horsemen objected to TVG's exclusive contract for the Hawthorne meeting that begins Sept. 15.

The Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association on Wednesday rescinded its approval for the broadcast of the Arlington signal on TVG in order to register its displeasure with a dispute between rival betting companies TVG and Youbet over the Hawthorne signal. Earlier this year, TVG signed an exclusive contract with Hawthorne, and Youbet.com is now refusing to carry the signal from Hawthorne's fall meet, which begins Sept. 15, because of higher rights-fee payments.

Representatives of the ITHA, Hawthorne Racecourse, the National Jockey Club, and TVG met via conference call on Thursday, according to officials. However, Youbet.com and Arlington Park did not participate.

Justin Cassity, the executive director of the ITHA, said he urged TVG's legal counsel, John Hindman, to meet with Youbet officials. Hindman responded that TVG would meet with Youbet officials only after the Arlington signal was restored, Cassity said.

Hindman did not return phone calls requesting comment.

TVG and Youbet.com have a licensing agreement that allows Youbet to offer wagering on TVG exclusive tracks. The licensing agreement requires Youbet to pay TVG the vast majority of the revenues from wagers on TVG exclusive tracks.

According to Cassity, the ITHA rescinded its approval for the Arlington signal to force TVG to the bargaining table with Youbet over the rights-fee payments on Hawthorne. Youbet carried the Hawthorne signal during that track's spring meet, after the new exclusive agreement was signed, but recently made the decision to drop the track from its menu for the fall.