10/26/2004 11:00PM

No trouble betting on BC races


Every account-wagering company in the U.S. is expected to take bets on the eight Breeders' Cup races Saturday.

"It's our intention to make the Breeders' Cup as widely available as possible," said Ken Kirchner, simulcasting official for the Breeders' Cup.

The availability of BC races is in sharp contrast to restrictions on home betting for the three Triple Crown races last spring. The Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes were blacked out for customers of the wagering service XpressBet, and the Preakness Stakes was available only to XpressBet customers. The restrictions were a result of complicated agreements many racetracks have with account-wagering companies.

Breeders' Cup negotiates rights with individual account-wagering operations and racetracks, Kirchner said.

The Kentucky Derby and Belmont restrictions arose out of exclusivity arrangements that Churchill Downs and the New York Racing Association have with Television Games Network. TVG licensed the Derby and the Belmont to other account-wagering services, but Magna Entertainment Corp., the owner of Pimlico and XpressBet, declined to provide the Preakness to other account-wagering companies.

Kirchner said that bettors in Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, and South Africa will be able to bet into the U.S. commingled Breeders' Cup pools, as in the past. In addition, sites in Austria, Germany, and Peru will offer commingled wagering for the first time this year, principally because of legislation passed this month that lifted a 30 percent withholding tax on foreign bets made into U.S. pools.

The biggest beneficiary of that legislation, Canada, will still be unable to wager into the U.S. pools, Kirchner said, because of technical and regulatory problems. As a result, Canadian bettors will wager into separate pools.

"There just wasn't enough time to get everything done, considering the legislation wasn't signed until last week," Kirchner said.

Other countries that will create separate pools on the Breeders' Cup include Belgium, Italy, Denmark, and Sri Lanka, according to Kirchner.

Japanese bettors will still be unable to bet on the Breeders' Cup in any way because of restrictions in Japan on the importation of foreign races.