04/25/2006 11:00PM

No Churchill-Vegas deal


The contract dispute between the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association and the Churchill Downs Simulcast Network stretched into Wednesday, and Las Vegas casinos had to book the races themselves on the opening card at Hollywood Park instead of participating in the parimutuel pools.

The Tuesday card at Calder Race Course, owned by Churchill Downs, was the first lost to the impasse, and on Tuesday night, representatives from both sides - John Avello, director of race and sports book operations at Wynn Las Vegas, and Julie Koenig Loignon, director of communications for Churchill Downs Incorporated - said an agreement in principle had been reached and that contracts would be signed in the morning.

But negotiations stalled Wednesday, and players who arrived at race books for Hollywood's afternoon card were informed they would have to place wagers two minutes before post and that payoffs on exotic wagers would be subject to house limits, with no betting allowed in multirace wagers such as the pick four and pick six.

Churchill Downs sold Hollywood to the Bay Meadows Land Company last summer, but negotiates the rights to the simulcast signal for both Hollywood and Bay Meadows. Churchill also owns Arlington, Ellis Park, Fair Grounds, and Hoosier.

Neither side would disclose details of the negotiations, but sources say it comes down to the percentage Churchill will be charging for its signal and the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association's desire for a deal of at least two or three years, while Churchill prefers to go year to year.

Yolanda Acuna, assistant race and sports book director at MGM Mirage and along with Avello a committee member of the parimutuel group, said Wednesday afternoon that she was hopeful the contracts would be finalized by the end of the day and that the parimutuel feed would be back up for Thursday's racing at Hollywood, Friday's card at Calder, and Churchill's Saturday opener.