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Magna snubs simulcast hubs

Jan 8, 2002 7:36 AM

Pulling a sudden about-face, Magna Entertainment Corp. (MIEC) fired the first salvo in what is expected to be a major battle within the thoroughbred racing industry over who will control America’s horse racing simulcasting/wagering system.

The operators of three account wagering services announced that Magna had pulled its racing signals as it prepared to institute its own service.

Just last month, Magna CEO Jim McAlpine criticized the practice of some simulcasting hubs that insist on exclusivity in their contract. He was aiming his criticism at Television Games Network (TVG), one of the industry leaders in hub wagering. TVG a subsidiary of the embattled Gemstar ”” TV Guide International (GMST), has the support of industry giants Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN) and the N.Y. Racing Association (NYRA).

Magna owns and operates Santa Anita, Bay Meadows and Golden Gate Fields in California where account wagering is expected to be implemented before the end of January. However, negotiations between Magna and TVG regarding the California racing signals have been fruitless, thus placing California’s entire account wagering future in jeopardy.

Affected immediately by the end of service were AmericaTab ”” brisbet.com; tsnbet.com and winticket.com. Not affected were the simulcast operations at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. This was not surprising since Magna recently said it was replacing the NYRA signal with that of the Fair Grounds.

Magna is expected to have its new website called XpressBet in operation within the next few weeks. The system is based on an online betting service it acquired as part of its purchase of Ladbroke’s racing operations in Pennsylvania.