12/15/2016 5:36PM

Santa Anita, two wagering companies reach handle agreement


Santa Anita has reached an agreement with TVG and Xpressbet that requires the account-wagering companies to pay a greater share of their handle toward purses and to the track on account wagers placed on mobile devices at the track.

The agreement starts opening day of the winter-spring meeting, Dec. 26, officials said.

The agreement, reached in recent days, was discussed at Thursday’s California Horse Racing Board meeting. Santa Anita and Xpressbet are owned by The Stronach Group.

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Santa Anita has not reached an agreement on share of ontrack mobile handle with two other account-wagering firms – TwinSpires.com and NYRABets – although track officials said they hope to reach agreement before the meeting’s opening day.

Two additional firms – Watch and Wager and BetAmerica – were not offered contracts for account wagering at the upcoming winter meeting. Those firms are expected to seek agreements with other California entities – such as another racetrack or a horsemen’s group – to secure the necessary contracts to conduct account wagering.

Santa Anita officials said they offered contracts to only four account-wagering firms because they did not want to oversaturate the market.

The new agreement hinges on pinpointing whether bettors are ontrack when making wagers through account-wagering companies, a process known as geolocating. Previously, bets placed ontrack through account-wagering firms were considered offtrack bets. Under the new structure, the bets will be considered ontrack wagers.

For years, track executives have seen handle migrate from bets placed ontrack to those made through account-wagering providers, and they have sought greater revenue from account-wagering firms.

Santa Anita president Joe Morris said after the racing board meeting that predicting the economic impact of the new agreement is difficult.

“On a big day, instead of getting up and getting in line at the window, people bet through their accounts,” he said. “We think the (handle) is measurable.”