01/01/2010 12:00AM

Still no movement on Gulf signal negotiations


Negotiations on a simulcasting contract between the owner of Gulfstream Park and a consortium of racetracks and simulcast sites on the Eastern Seaboard remained at a standstill on Friday, making it extremely unlikely that customers at the sites would be able to wager on Gulfstream's opening-day race card on Sunday, officials for both sides said.

Martin Lieberman, the executive director of the MidAtlantic Cooperative, which represents 17 racetracks and their offtrack betting networks in seven states, said that talks on a new contract have not taken place since before Christmas. The dispute between the two groups has already left the sites without the signals from Fair Grounds in New Orleans and Santa Anita in Southern California, which, together with Gulfstream and Aqueduct, form the core of the winter-racing menu in the U.S.

Gulfstream's signal is controlled by TrackNet Media, a partnership between Magna Entertainment Corp. and Churchill Downs Inc. The group has been pushing account-wagering operators and off-track betting sites to pay higher rates for its signals, as part of an overall strategy to direct more of the revenue from simulcasts to signal producers.

According to Lieberman and Scott Daruty, the president of TrackNet, the two sides have failed to agree on a rate that the cooperative's tracks should pay. Both sides have said that TrackNet is pushing for a rate increase.

Lieberman said on Friday that the tracks have offered to pay a higher rate than under the previous contract, but that those offers have been viewed as inadequate.

Daruty said that other sites are paying more than the cooperative is willing to pay.

"Until they are prepared to pay rates that are similar to what everyone else is paying, there will be no progress," Daruty said.

Members of the cooperative include Suffolk Downs, Rockingham Park, the Meadowlands, Monmouth Park, Freehold Raceway, Atlantic City, Chester Downs, Philadelphia Park, Penn National, Pocono Downs, Delaware Park, Harrington Raceway, Dover Downs, Charles Town Races, Rosecroft Raceway, Ocean Downs, and Colonial Downs.