11/14/2008 12:00AM

TVG-Fair Grounds deal said to be close


Television Games Network and representatives of Fair Grounds and its horsemen were negotiating a deal on Friday that could potentially allow TVG to accept wagers on the track's races, according to the president of the Louisiana Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.

LHBPA president Sean Alfortish said that the deal was in its final stages on Friday, the track's opening day. However, Alfortish said early on Friday afternoon that representatives of TVG and TrackNet - the simulcast-marketing partnership controlled by Magna Entertainment Corp. and Churchill Downs Inc., the owner of Fair Grounds - were still working on final terms.

"There's a lot of legal documents and discussions going on right now," Alfortish said.

If finalized, the deal would put the Fair Grounds signal on all four national account-wagering platforms in the U.S. Fair Grounds had signed deals with three of the four account-wagering platforms as of Wednesday, but the track and its horsemen were unable to reach an agreement with TVG at that time.

Horsemen were attempting to get all four national account-wagering companies to accept an identical agreement, with the exception of the live television rights for the signal. Those rights will be held by HorseRacing TV, also a partnership of Churchill Downs Inc. and Magna Entertainment.

TVG had balked at the initial terms of the deal. Alfortish declined to provide details of the deal that TVG was negotiating. Earlier in the day, he had said that the horsemen considered the terms of the deal "fair."

TVG officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

On Thursday, David Nathanson, the president of TVG, said that TVG was reluctant to reach a "one-size-fits-all" agreement with horsemen, contending that the division of television rights favored one account-wagering platform over another and that economic situations in different states require tailor-made contracts.

In addition to the pending Fair Grounds deal, Alfortish said that TVG has agreed to a contract allowing the company to broadcast and take wagers on races from Delta Downs in Louisiana. That contract will allow both TVG and HorseRacing TV to broadcast the races live, Alfortish said.

"That's a deal that we hope will become standard in this industry," Alfortish said.