08/30/2010 3:36PM

No California exchange betting till 2012, bill says


Legislation that would increase the takeout for exotic bets in California and permit the development of exchange betting in the state was altered over the weekend to delay the implementation of exchange betting until May 2012 at the earliest, according to industry officials.

Those provisions were added to a Senate bill that was scheduled to be heard by a state Assembly committee on Monday afternoon. The state legislative session was scheduled to end on Tuesday, but the legislature has yet to produce a budget and was expected to remain in session past Tuesday. That would give the bill more time to be heard.

The legislation would raise the takeout on two-horse exotic wagers by 2 percent, from the current 20.68 percent, to 22.68 percent, and increase the takeout on bets requiring three or more horses by 3 percent, from 20.68 percent to 23.68 percent. The legislation states that revenue from the higher takeout must go to funding overnight purses, which could raise an $25 million to $30 million annually, according to racing officials.

The takeout-exchange bill was originally sponsored by Assembly speaker John Perez of Los Angeles. The revised bill is sponsored by Senator Ron Calderon of Montebello.

The revised legislation would give the California Horse Racing Board time to establish the rules and regulations of exchange betting, which is not currently permitted in the United States. Conducted on the Internet, exchange betting allows bettors to post odds on a horse and take bets directly from other players.

“It gives everyone in the industry time to work through their issues and come up with the regulations,” racing board chairman Keith Brackpool said.

The altered timeline on the exchange betting provision had the support of the Thoroughbred Owners of California, according to president Arnold Zetcher.

“We’re quite comfortable with that,” he said. “It gives everybody enough time to understand the exchange portion.”

If passed, the takeout increase would go into effect in December. The bill also contains a provision dedicating money to the Breeders’ Cup when that event is held in California.