02/03/2014 3:39PM

NYRA, Churchill Downs Inc. lack contract for simulcast signal rights


The New York Racing Association and Churchill Downs Inc. have been unable to reach an agreement on NYRA’s simulcast signal rights despite several extensions to last year’s contract, a dispute that could result in a blackout of NYRA’s signal on the United States’s largest account-wagering site beginning later this week, according to officials.

The latest extension to last year’s agreement expired Monday, and negotiations between the two parties are ongoing, according to the tracks’ officials. NYRA’s next live racing day is Friday at Aqueduct.

The dispute involves two of the most powerful racing companies in the United States. Churchill owns four racetracks and operates twinspires.com, the largest account-wagering site in the country, and because of the size of its operation, the company has enormous leverage in negotiations over simulcast contracts with racetracks.

On the opposite side, NYRA has the most valuable year-round signal of any single racing operator, and its simulcast rate is believed to be the highest in the United States outside of major events like the Triple Crown races and Breeders’ Cup. NYRA operates Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course, which together account for approximately one-fifth of the handle on U.S. races.

Late last year, NYRA’s chief executive, Chris Kay, said that NYRA would be seeking a higher rate for its simulcast signal in 2014 as a way to shore up its bottom line. NYRA has had troubles over the past decade posting a profit on its racing operations when excluding subsidies from a casino located at Aqueduct.

Though NYRA officials said they would not comment on the negotiations Monday, an official with knowledge of NYRA’s contracts said the association has reached new contracts with all of the major signal brokers in the United States with the exception of Churchill. Those contracts were reached with a “modest” increase to the signal price, the official said.

A Churchill spokesperson said the company would have no comment on the negotiations as of early Monday afternoon.

A blackout of the NYRA signal on twinspires.com could have serious repercussions for both sides. Some twinspires.com customers could migrate to competing account-wagering companies, including NYRA’s own internet and telephone betting operation, to retain access to the signal. Meanwhile, NYRA could lose a significant amount of handle on its signal if twinspires.com customers are unable to bet on its races.

JoeyB More than 1 year ago
The fact is that racing would be dead if there were no slots at tracks. Why do you think tracks like Suffolk Downs, Rockingham, and Calder remain open even if they have no live meets or meets like Calder running against two other Florida tracks. It's all about slots or the hope of getting slots that keep these tracks open. I also agree that we a national horseracing agency to run the sport and make laws on a national basis.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
Once again the best solution to this is a JAPAN like approach or even a HONG KONG solution .over there racing is run by the government and it works.create an an agency say the united states horseracing and betting agency the USRBA they take over the major tracks the off-track betting and drug enforcement and licensing of racing personnel.one rate for simulcast signals to broadcasting corporations one rate to online simulcast outlets.before you scoff at the idea remember in japan and hong kong racing is thriving and growing their average pools are much much bigger than ours they don't have the drug and cheating scandals we have.theres a uniform nationwide medication policy and the last time i looked the stands at the race track were packed with people. for all the anti gov in racing crowd there's the zimbabwe racing club or jamaican racing of course ours is also getting that banana republic look about it.
whitney More than 1 year ago
Churchill Downs does not care about the horse player or the horsemen. They care about the twice a year customers who show off gaudily in their disgraceful styrofoam luxury suites. The Kentucky Derby, with all of its history and polish, somehow always grants CD a pass in spite of their indignant behavior as a corporation. They make Frank Stronach seem like Harvey Pack and get away with it. Up with NYRA! They're trying. Every day racing (and there's loads of it) continues to fade into meaninglessness in Louisville!
Bill Wallner More than 1 year ago
Glad I have TVG TV and ADW with both. Problem solved.
Pat More than 1 year ago
Another example of the shortsighted greed that dominates the powers to be in the racing industry. With casinos and the slot monies, who REALLY needs the bettor?
Annette Matejik More than 1 year ago
Thank You to Walter and Michael for bringing up the fact that CD sold out Hollywood to land developers. Hollywood had one of the fairest (and closest to dirt) artificial surfaces ever created. You could get PRICES even in small fields!! Rest in Peace Hollywood Park. I'm NOT betting the derby or any races from CD!! Guaranteed.
Chuck Seddio More than 1 year ago
dumb and dumber, just what a fledgling industry needs a civil war between venues. at the rate the racing industry is going trhere will be nothing left. i live in south jersey 2 miles out of ac and only 1 casino hte borgota is still simulcasting, ballys,showboat,caesers,harrahs,and the trop are done with racing. they are expanding their poker rooms. nyra and churchill should take notice and figure out a way not ot piss the remaining horse players that are left
Ron Rios More than 1 year ago
Can't we are just get along? The greed is extremely frustrating for horse players, but the fact is twinspries needs to get it done, becasue NYRA tracks has too many good races to ignore.
mikey More than 1 year ago
How about no track sells its signal to no one.Either everyone goes to the track or no betting.Is that what these dummies really want.Wake up and listen to the people who pay the bills US THE FEW HORSEPLAYERS LEFT.
Kevin Miller More than 1 year ago
If there is no NYRA on Twinspires, I will be closing my account. I think I will go back to betting the dogs. You never have to put up with this crap.
Trent More than 1 year ago
Kevin, the only reason DRF put this article is up is so people will start looking for alternative platforms to Twinspires.com for their ADW wagering...and wouldn't you know it, DRF happens to have one!!! What a strange coincidence. Maybe be a little less obvious next time.