09/05/2002 11:00PM

TVG handle soars in quarter


NEW YORK - Betting through Television Games Network, the account-wagering service backed by most of the popular tracks in the country, skyrocketed to $47.9 million in the second quarter this year, a three-fold increase over the first quarter and a 360 percent increase over the second quarter last year, according to figures supplied by the Oregon Racing Commission.

Handle through TVG's main competitors, such as AmericaTab, did not increase at nearly the same rates compared with the first three months of the year. AmericaTab, an Ohio-based consortium of six account-wagering sites, had handle of $15.7 million in the second quarter, an increase of 26 percent over handle in the first quarter.

TVG's handle of $47.9 million in the second quarter was up 290 percent from the first quarter total of $16 million, according to the Oregon commission's figures. TVG and other account-wagering companies are required to provide their handle numbers to the commission because their hubs are located in the state.

Mark Wilson, TVG's president, said that the increase in second-quarter handle reflects strong betting on the Triple Crown races and TVG's "first real marketing push in California." Account wagering was legalized in California earlier this year.

The wide discrepancy between the first quarter and second quarter is also related to TVG's inability to offer betting on the two most popular winter signals, Santa Anita Park and Gulfstream Park, during the first three months of the year. Santa Anita and Gulfstream, which dominate racing handle in the winter, are both owned by Magna Entertainment Corp., which owns a competing account-wagering system, XpressBet.