06/23/2010 11:00PM

TVG/Betfair to sponsor United Nations


Television Games Network and its parent company, the British betting exchange operator Betfair, have reached an agreement to sponsor the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, according to Monmouth.

The sponsorship deal was reached at a time when Betfair and New Jersey racing officials are lobbying aggressively for legislation that would legalize exchange betting in New Jersey. The legislation is supported by horsemen in the state and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which operates Monmouth and the Meadowlands.

The legislation -- the first of its kind to be introduced in the U.S. -- was unanimously approved last Thursday by the five-member Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee of the New Jersey Assembly. It has yet to be scheduled for a vote on the Assembly floor.

Customers of exchange wagering sites like Betfair are allowed to bet against each other on horse races using odds set by the customers themselves. While enormously popular in Britain and Australia, the U.S. racing industry has been wary of embracing the concept because of questions over the legality of the practice under federal laws and concerns over the business model of betting exchanges, which return a far smaller share to the racing industry than traditional parimutuel bets.

The $750,000 United Nations, run at 1 3/8 miles on the grass, is one of Monmouth's most prestigious races. Under the agreement, the race will be renamed the Betfair/TVG United Nations, and the race will be televised live by TVG, the release said. In addition, TVG, Betfair and the sports and exposition authority will guarantee a pool of $250,000 for the pick five wager that includes the United Nations that day, according to Bill Knaupf, the authority's assistant vice president of Thoroughbred racing.

Although Knaupf would not disclose financial terms of the deal, he said the agreement was in no way tied to the groups efforts to pass the betting-exchange legislation.

"This is a way for both of us to benefit from TVG's ongoing efforts here at Monmouth," Knaupf said. "It recognizes their ability to drive handle on our signal, and gives them more exposure at our meet."

TVG has an onsite studio at Monmouth near the winner's circle, and the network has broadcast live from the track every day of the meet so far.