03/02/2005 12:00AM

U.K. books to take American races


Thoroughbred Racing Network International, a company owned by Philadelphia Park, has reached a three-year agreement to send races from North American racetracks into bookmaking shops in the United Kingdom and Ireland, the company said Wednesday.

The network already sends signals from North American tracks into homes in the United Kingdom through a satellite service. The new agreement will provide the signals to more than 9,300 bookmaking shops through Satellite Information Services, along with betting information.

The agreement is likely to have little impact on North American racing pools, at least initially, according to Bill Hogwood, the president of TRNI. Nearly all of the betting in the U.K. and Ireland is done through bookmakers, despite parimutuel systems in those countries. The network is attempting to assemble a roster of U.S. racetracks to go into the shops while developing a system to allow bookmakers and their customers to wager through the U.S. parimutuel system, Hogwood said.

"This is a new, emerging service and market, and it's complicated," Hogwood said.

Expanding U.S. racing into international markets has become more viable since a federal bill was passed last year repealing a 30 percent withholding tax on foreign wagers on U.S. racing.

Bookmaking shops in the U.K. recently received approval to expand their hours of operation, Hogwood said.

"As they extend their hours, they're going to want more and more American racing," Hogwood said.