California Fairs Land Deals With All Account Wagering Providers

The California Authority of Racing Fairs (CARF) on July 4 became the only racing association in the state to complete agreements with all three licensed advanced deposit wagering companies.

CARFis the entity that represents eight fairs in the northern half of the state that offer live horse racing. The Los Angeles County Fair operates independently from the other fair meets.

Christopher Korby, CARF executive director, said an agreement with the last of the three ADW operators, Magna Entertainment's XpressBet, was finalized on July 3, in time for the Independence Day weekend closing of the Alameda County Fair meet.

The TV Games Network (TVG) signed on with CARF June 29, Korby said, while Youbet.com has offered betting on the fairs since the 2002 summer season began June 12.

All three companies will take bets on the Solano County Fair, which begins racing in Vallejo on July 10.

"We decided early on that we wanted to be a little different than the other racing associations in the state, who are closely affiliated with one company or the other, and would only seek non-exclusive agreements," Korby explained.

CARF is the only Thoroughbred racing association in the state that enjoys that flexibility. Hollywood Park, Del Mar, the Oak Tree Racing Association and the LACF have exclusive agreements with TVG (and by extension, its corporate partner, YouBet.com). Magna owns Santa Anita Park, Bay Meadows, and Golden Gate Fields and uses XpressBet exclusively.

Across the country, Fairgrounds, Oaklawn Park and Sam Houston Park, among others, use TVG as well as other account wagering providers.

Korby said ADW generated a total of about $400,000 in betting handle during the 11-day Alameda County Fair. He noted that TVG was available for only part of the meet and XpressBet made just a token appearance.

"We saw a nice ramp-up each day," he noted. "I'm hoping we can continue to build on that."

John Hindman, TVG vice president for communications, said the agreement with CARF did not signal a change for the company to non-exclusive contracts. He said that the core racetracks that provide the bulk of its live race programming would remain exclusive.

"We view exclusivity of our programming as a vital part of TVG's success," he said. "We do much of our business in California and we see (the fairs) as content our California viewers would enjoy, as well as viewers across the country."

As far as television coverage of the fairs, Hindman said TVG would probably run video replays of the stretch runs.

The Solano County Fair, which concludes racing July 21 this summer, is followed by meets at Sonoma County in Santa Rosa (July 24-Aug. 5), San Mateo County at Bay Meadows (Aug. 7-19) and Humboldt County at Ferndale (Aug. 8-18), the state fair at Sacramento's Cal Expo (Aug. 21-Sept. 2), and Fresno County at Fresno (Oct. 2-13) on the CARF circuit.

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