Horse racing: Vegas books pact down to finish line

Jan 25, 2009 7:20 PM
by GT Staff |

By failing to negotiate a new agreement by last Sunday, Nevada race books face the possibility of losing its TV feed to key race tracks, as well as participation in those tracks’ pari-mutuel pools.

If that occurs – and the state’s Pari-Mutuel Association has until Wednesday to settle the impasse – race books would be forced to book their own bets, like they did decades ago.

At issue is the amount of the pari-mutuel handle that race books now retain; the tracks are seeking a larger cut of the pie. They also want a more detailed breakdown of the type of bets made in the state’s race books.

TrackNet Media represents tracks owned by Churchill Downs and Magna Entertainment. Tracks that could be cut off include Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park and Fair Grounds.

The original contract expired Dec. 31, but an extension was granted to Sunday to allow for more negotiations.

But after Sunday’s session, casino officials weren’t encouraged by the progress of the negotiations.

"I’m trying and I want to be optimistic, but in almost any negotiations in business the reason you are at an impasse is monitary," said John Avello, director of race and sports operations at Wynn Las Vegas and Encore. "It’s not a good situation for anyone, especially the fans."

Avello added that Nevada race books have offered to give up some of the 17 percent they now retain from the handle, but the race tracks want more than they’re offering.

An official with TrackNet Media said the amount the Nevada race books are offering is far less than what other outlets pay.

Check back here for updates as they occur this week.