06/02/2012 10:15AM

TOC tables exchange-betting talks until next year

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Exchange betting will not be implemented in California in 2012, and TVG and HRTV have been given the go-ahead to negotiate an agreement to televise each other’s California races in decisions reached by the board of directors of the Thoroughbred Owners of California at its monthly board meeting on Friday.

The board of the TOC, the state’s official representative of horsemen, opted not to take a vote on the approval of exchange betting for the upcoming Del Mar meeting, from July 18 to Sept. 5. The Del Mar meeting is the earliest the controversial bet could have been offered.

Officials with Del Mar and Betfair-TVG had lobbied hard in recent months for TOC approval for exchange betting, which allows customers to post odds and accept wagers on whether a horse will win or lose a race.

In a statement released late Friday, the TOC said it will not take up the issue of exchange betting for a year. There has been widespread concern from some parties in the sport, notably trainers, that they could be scrutinized for alleged wrongdoing because of the nature of exchange betting, particularly when a horse is bet to lose.

“The concept of exchange wagering has been a polarizing issue among the stakeholders in California racing,” TOC chairman Mike Pegram said in a statement. “This action will give us additional time to study this betting alternative and consider if it is in the best interests of the industry in our state.”

Exchange betting was legalized in 2010 as part of legislation that included an increased takeout on exotic wagers. Income from the higher takeout was dedicated to overnight purses. The bill did not allow exchange betting until May of this year, and the rule-making process has yet to be finalized. The subject was expected to be discussed at a California Horse Racing Board meeting later this month.

At Friday’s board meeting, the TOC approved a proposal that would allow Stronach Group Racing, the owner of HRTV, to negotiate a reciprocal agreement with TVG to show California races that are now exclusive to one network or the other. HRTV has exclusive rights to broadcast races from Stronach’s California tracks – Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita. TVG has the exclusive rights to broadcast the races from Del Mar and Betfair Hollywood Park. Under the proposal, HRTV could broadcast the races from Del Mar and Hollywood, and TVG could broadcast the races from Golden Gate and Santa Anita.

As of Friday, Del Mar and Hollywood Park had not agreed to terms with the Stronach Group proposal, according to the TOC’s statement.

Both television companies have been widely criticized for years by the racing board, fans and horsemen’s groups for not having reciprocal agreements allowing racing customers to watch all of the circuit’s major tracks on each network.

HRTV has been particularly criticized for having poor distribution through satellite and cable television systems. Both networks offer telephone and Internet betting platforms, which offer betting on all the major California tracks.