01/20/2004 1:00AM

Youbet loses Laurel signal


Magna Entertainment Corp. has withdrawn Laurel Park's signal from Youbet.com, expanding Magna's policy to restrict access to its signals at competing account wagering companies.

Officials at Youbet said that Magna informed the company about the Laurel Park decision last week, and that the withdrawal became effective Jan. 17. Magna officials told Youbet that the decision was "beyond appeal," according to Michael Veitch, Youbet's chief marketing officer.

Magna, the largest racing company in the United States, bought a majority share in Laurel's parent company, the Maryland Jockey Club, in 2002. The jockey club also owns Pimlico Race Course.

Late last year, Magna withdrew the signals of its tracks, including Santa Anita and Gulfstream, from nearly all account wagering companies. Magna operates its own account wagering company, XpressBet, which now offers the Magna signals almost exclusively.

Under an agreement struck with the assistance of California horsemen and regulators late in December, however, Youbet has been allowed to offer wagering on Magna's California tracks.