California Horse Racing Board approves 'back or lay' bets

Nov 19, 2012 6:15 PM

Horse players: Get ready for exchange wagering…you know, betting on either side of a proposition. In other words, bet to win or to lose.

Last week, the California Horse Racing Board approved the betting platform that allows horse players “to buy and sell” – back or lay – wagers. Consideration of the exchange wagering system, available for a dozen years in the United Kingdom and sponsored by the English bookmaking firm Betfair, has been going on for nearly three years.

There is still the legal hurdle to overcome. The Board said it would send the proposal to California’s Office of Administration Law for legal consideration. Assuming the plan gets state lawyers’ approval, the Board will then consider final approval.

It was felt without further complications, the new betting practice could get underway in late 2013.

So far, only two groups have been approved for licensing in the new format. They are Betfair, through its ownership of Television Games Network and its advance deposit wagering system, and Churchill Downs Inc.

Actually, Churchill Downs was approved for a provisional license pending its agreement to contribute up to half of the $530,000 needed to pay for oversight.

TVG reportedly has signed contracts with several horsemen’s groups and would be ready to begin the new betting practice in March, 2013.

Not everybody in the racing business agrees with the exchange wagering system. Opponents included the Stronach Group, owners of Santa Anita and Golden Gate Fields. The Group cited potential integrity problems.

Also expressing concerns about potential skullduggery were the Thoroughbred Owners of California and the California Thoroughbred Trainers organization.

According to the rules established by the California Horse Racing Board, the out-of-state horse players who wager on California races in locales that have legalized such betting will be allowed to participate in exchange wagering.