The passage of an account wagering bill in Louisiana poses a problem for the TV Games Network, and it could become an issue in other jurisdictions should some racetracks opt not to use the TVG wagering hub in Oregon.
The Louisiana legislation, signed into law in April, allows for account wagering through Fair Grounds and clears the way for TVG to offer its product in the state. Fair Grounds president Bryan Krantz has said he hopes to have a system in place before the 2000 meet starts in late November. To that end, Fair Grounds officials have appealed to TVG for technical input to help launch the system.
For instance, the two entities are working together with the Louisiana State Racing Commission to establish applicable rules and regulations, and Fair Grounds is utilizing TVG models to establish protocols for cable distribution and to structure hardware systems.
Despite the partnership, Fair Grounds will break from the model and not utilize the TVG wagering hub operated by NTRA Services. Krantz said he plans to forego the hub in favor of one that may be operated by his track.
“I consider (its relationship with the Oregon hub) the one problem with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association,” said Krantz, a new member of the NTRA board of directors. “The Oregon hub is going to cause problems, not just for us but for anyone who wants to have (a hub) in their own home state. It will be problematic, because we will be competing with TVG in some way.”
Fair Grounds is a non-exclusive partner of TVG. As such, its races can be included as part of the channel's programming, but the track reserves the right to distribute its signal to other outlets.
John Hindman, director of communications for TVG, said his company would press forward with its June 6 launch in Louisiana and “move as quickly as possible to establish meaningful TV distribution and subscribers.” He said he hopes other states would utilize the complete TVG model.
“Obviously, the temptation will be there for other tracks to do what Fair Grounds is doing,” Hindman said. “Tracks will be able to take a free ride on TVG systems, but I would hope they maintain a national perspective and follow through with the entire model. Our business plan won't work if they operate separate systems.”
Chip Tuttle, the NTRA's vice president of communications, said each member would have to make its own decision, though the “established infrastructure” makes economic sense.