Some Nevada casino racebooks are booking wagers on races from tracks affiliated with TrackNet Media Group after the content company recently cut off simulcast signals to the state over a contract dispute.
As a result of the standoff, simulcast signals from Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park, Laurel Park, Oaklawn Park, and Santa Anita Park are no longer televised at more than 80 racebooks, which are represented by the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association.
But the bookmaking move doesn’t make sense to the lead negotiator for TrackNet, which is a joint content venture of Churchill Downs Inc. and Magna Entertainment Corp.
“They are jumping through all kinds of hoops to book races,” said Scott Daruty, president and chief executive officer of TrackNet. “They are going to book races they can’t show races on … without being able to watch the races, a lot of people are going to choose not to bet.
“They are going to lose handle,” he continued. “The amount of money that they are losing in trying to get around us is significantly more than what we are asking them to pay.”
TrackNet and the Nevada racebooks failed to reach a new agreement after the last one expired Dec. 26 with the opening of the current Santa Anita meet, despite the addition of two deadline extensions. Among other issues, TrackNet wants higher fees from racebooks, claiming the casinos have for many years underpaid for the signals.
“It’s been a decade since Santa Anita has had a rate increase,” Daruty cited as an example.
Patty Jones, executive director of the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association, was not immediately available for comment. It is believed Nevada feels it is worthy of lower rates because of the handle it generates, and because of the Las Vegas-style marketing it extends to its casino customers. Many large players through the years have left the racebooks to utilize advance deposit wagering Intenet platforms, where cash-reward rebates are also available.
But Daruty claims the handle from Nevada has dropped through the years by 6% to 11% on tracks now in the TrackNet fold. A counter-proposal submitted by Nevada just prior to the last extension deadline was deemed unsuitable by TrackNet, but Daruty said his company sent back another set of terms earlier this week.
“We have not heard a word since,” said Daruty, who is hopeful negotiations can resume. “They are adamant about not paying a materially significant increase.”
Other racetracks continue to send televised simulcast signals to Nevada for lower fees than it charges most wagering outlets, but it is believed many are keeping an eye on the Nevada negotiations with TrackNet to see if any upward mobility is possible.