05/14/2008 12:00AM

Louisiana Downs faces blackout


The signal from Louisiana Downs is facing a blackout on all national account-wagering companies because of a dispute centering on the amount of money horsemen receive from bets made via those wagering companies, officials for the track and the local horsemen's group said Wednesday.

If an agreement is not reached on the account-wagering splits by the track's opening day on Saturday, Louisiana Downs will join a growing list of racetracks that are currently blacked out on one or more national account-wagering platforms. That list includes Churchill Downs, Calder Race Course, Lone Star Park, River Downs, Thistledown, and Presque Isle Downs.

Sean Alfortish, the president of the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, said Wednesday that local horsemen have assigned their account-wagering rights to a company called the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Group, which was formed last year to press for higher splits from account wagers for purses. The organization is demanding that horsemen receive one-third of the revenue from account wagers, and no racetrack or account-wagering company has acceded yet to the demand.

"The track and I have had a good dialogue on the issues we're facing," Alfortish said. "I think they understand and respect our opinion. It's the [account-wagering companies] that don't get it yet, but they will."

Mark Midland, the general manager of Louisiana Downs, said that account wagering constituted about 10 percent of the track's handle last year. He said that track officials have not sought out the Thoroughbred Horsemen's Group for negotiations yet, but that he expected to make contact with the company Thursday or Friday.

Officials for the horsemen's group did not return phone calls on Wednesday.

Last year, the Louisiana Downs signal was available on all major platforms, including Youbet.com, Television Games Network, XpressBet, and Twinspires.com.