Woodbine: No Signals for High-Volume Betting Shop
by Blood-Horse Staff
Date Posted: 12/22/2005 2:34:52 PM
Last Updated: 12/24/2005 4:51:06 PM

Woodbine Entertainment Group has reiterated its views on non-racetrack rebate shops by denying International Racing Group access to Woodbine-hosted pools.

The move is interesting given the fact Curacao-based IRG has been purchased by United States-based Youbet.com and has been approved to operate a wagering hub in Oregon. That means handle from the offshore betting outlet would move through U.S.-regulated channels, though IRG continues to offer rebates to high-volume players.

Youbet.com is a California-based account wagering service that also hubs through Oregon. It returns revenue to racetracks via host fees and source-market fees.

"We, as an industry, cannot afford to continue to legitimize these non-racetrack rebate operations," WEG chief executive officer David Willmot said in a release. "Our long-term success depends on a significant reinvestment in the racing industry, which is something that these organizations do not deliver."

WEG said the pari-mutuel racing business relies on substantial contributions from wagering revenue to fund breeding programs, purses, and overall infrastructure. Non-racetrack rebate operators are not contributing enough to achieve these objectives, even with their claims of generating increased handle, WEG said.

Woodbine stopped providing its signal to similar operators in early 2004 after some rebate shops solicited its customers.

"The effect on handle has been inconsequential," Steve Mitchell, WEG senior vice president and chief financial officer, said in the release. "We have been able to recoup that lost handle and more."

IRG was named but not charged earlier this year in an indictment that alleged race-fixing and illegal gambling in New York. IRG and other high-volume shops--also called secondary pari-mutuel operations, or SPMOs--were cut off by major racing associations in the wake of the indictment and asked to submit detailed information pertaining to their structure and client bases.

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