Cal. betting unresolved

Jan 22, 2002 5:58 AM

What’s that old bromide that you shouldn’t wish too hard because your wish may come true, but not in the way that you had hoped?

That’s the complaint being heard among California horse players now that the state is just a few days away from implementing the Advance Deposit Wagering bill, a law that permits followers of the Sport of Kings to bet from their homes and elsewhere away from the tracks.

However, because of conflicts between Magna Entertainment Corp. (MEIC) and The TV Games Network (TVG), a subsidiary of Gemstar-TV Guide International (GEM) it appears the horseplayer will have to subscribe to both wagering services in order to play races at the state’s major tracks.

Magna controls the simulcast signal of Santa Anita and both northern California tracks while TVG, with the support of Churchill Downs Inc (CHDN), has exclusive rights to Hollywood Park. Outside California, Magna has Gulfstream Park in Florida while TVG has Churchill Downs and the N.Y. Racing Association (NYRA).

John Harris, a member of the California Horse Racing Board, was quoted as saying, “This has potential to really confuse the public right off the bat.” Meanwhile, board Chairman Alan Landsburg is expected to make a major speech on the matter sometime this week when the final regulations governing advanced deposit wagering will be announced.