Simulcasting Wagering Returns to Tucson Area

Simulcast wagering on Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse races returned to Pima County, Ariz., Sept. 27, in time for the 2007-2008 Turf Paradise meeting, which starts Oct. 5.

Tucson-area horseplayers were unable to wager on simulcast races during the last Turf Paradise meet, which ran Oct. 6 to May 6, due to a dispute involving the Phoenix area racetrack, Tucson Greyhound Park, and the Pima County Horsemen’s Association, which runs Rillito Park in Tucson.

Since the three parties have reached an agreement, Tucson Greyhound Park and its eight off-track betting sites will be able to accept wagers again. The contract will last until May 2009, closing day of the 2008-2009 Turf Paradise meeting.

The lack of simulcasting in Pima County cost horsemen $600,000 in purse money during the last Turf Paradise meeting, according to the Arizona Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

“Wagering in Pima County contributes to 10% of our purse monies,” said Eugene Joyce, president and general manager of Turf Paradise.

Despite the lack of simulcasting in Pima County, purse distributions averaged $89,000 per day during the last meet, a record for Turf Paradise. The return of simulcast betting to the Tucson area could help Turf Paradise set a new mark during the 07-08 meeting.

“We looked at Pima County coming back on-line with us when we projected our purses for this meet, which will be about $100,000 a day. Two years ago, the distribution was $79,000 per day, so we’re stepping up in the right direction”  

In a previous interview, Vince Francia, director of marketing and media relations for Turf Paradise, said the dispute involved revenue splits. State law requires both Tucson Greyhound Park and the Rillito horsemen to agree to the terms of any simulcast contract before Turf Paradise or Yavapai Downs in Prescott Valley can redistribute signals to Pima County.

“Turf Paradise has to send (the signals) to us and Rillito has to approve the contract as well,” said Tom Taylor, CEO and general manager of Tucson Greyhound Park, of the complicated simulcasting law. “Rillito is the county horse permittee and we’re the OTB network."

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