Kentucky officials address late betting issues

Nov 3, 2009 3:41 AM
Industry Insider by Ray Poirier |

For years, especially since the introduction of last-minute computer wagering, racing officials have bemoaned, and fans have lambasted, the changing of odds after horse races have begun.

Sometime, the changes came when the runners were approaching the stretch turn.

Exactly what action regulators, who are charged with maintaining the integrity of the sport and the accompanying wagering, should take has been the problem.

Finally, racing officials in Kentucky are addressing the problem in a controversial manner: stop the betting when the infield clock reads "Zero minutes to post."

That would mean that procrastinating bettors who wait to the last minute to run to the betting windows would be shut out. That will make them very angry. That will make the racetrack operators very angry as well since they will lose all that potential action. And, that will make the state treasurer unhappy when taxes on wagering decline.

Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs, urged caution, saying, "Let’s make sure we’re not doing something that shoots Kentucky racing in the foot." He said that Churchill tried to eliminate betting after post time during its fall meet in 2002 to disastrous results. Betting revenues dropped 20 percent.

A spokesman for the group recommending the new procedure called the matter a "hot potato."

"It’s a hot potato nobody wants to deal with. Behind closed doors, everybody says it’s a good idea, but publicly nobody wants to take a stand," he said.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Ray Poirier