Horseplayers Petition for Full Access to Signals

Horseplayers upset over the current state of account wagering in the United States are attempting to drum up support for a petition drive aimed at asking the industry’s top organizations to intervene.

The Web petition is circulating only days before The Jockey Club Round Table Conference in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The primary agenda item at the Aug. 19 event is account wagering economics, which the National Thoroughbred Racing Association has said would become a focus of study by the organization.

The petition, available at the forum site paceadvantage.com, had almost 9,000 views as of Aug. 15. Horseplayers indicated the petition would be presented to The Jockey Club in time for the Round Table.

The petition is aimed at the ongoing conflict between account wagering (advance deposit wagering) providers that has limited access to various signals. The petition reads:

“We as players are offended and disgusted by the wrangling that TrackNet, TVG, and other content providers have engaged in with regards to the simulcast signals. We believe that many executives in the business overlook the fact that without us, the racing industry would cease to exist.

“The operation of a racetrack and the ability to conduct inter-track simulcasting of racing events is a privilege not a right. We request that The Jockey Club, the NTRA, and all powers that be immediately intervene to mediate the disputes that are destroying this great game.

“We demand that all licensed racetracks, simulcast facilities, and ADWs be accorded immediate access to all simulcast signals at rates that are fair and equitable to all, the tracks, the horseman, and the players. Let the customers decide who to reward with their business.

“In the absence of responsible action, horseplayer boycotts are a certainty.”

It remains to be seen whether there will be boycotts or whether the petition will be presented Aug. 19. Officials with The Jockey Club declined comment on the matter Aug. 15 as they prepare for the Round Table.

Speakers at the Round Table include Robert Evans, president and chief executive officer of Churchill Downs Inc.; Joe Santanna, president and chairman of the board of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association; and David Nathanson, senior vice president and general manager of TVG. Jockey Club president Alan Marzelli will make related introductory and closing remarks.

The petition at paceadvantage.com makes note of the recent decision by CDI to stop releasing handle and attendance data after live meets at its racetracks. It quotes Evans as saying: “Handle and attendance figures are no longer key metrics.”

In late July, the National HBPA held a wagering workshop attended by top officials with TrackNet, TVG, and Youbet.com. Discussion and pleas at the workshop--by far the most revealing public discussion on account wagering thus far--led to the companies working together to ensure the Aug. 4 Claiming Crown at Ellis Park was widely disseminated.

The Claiming Crown in turn established a total handle record of more than $4.9 million.

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