Hannah said that of 7,802 account holders Xpressbet has signed up, 7,092 are California residents. Forty-eight percent of the handle so far has been wagered on Santa Anita, 13% on Golden Gate Fields, and 39% on Standardbred and out-of-state racing.He claimed that wait times for customers have been reduced by hiring additional agents, and the Web site's speed--a source of many complaints--has "substantially improved" since early March after Xpressbet reconfigured its hardware. A new television program, "Santa Anita Now," which will appear on selected Saturday afternoons, has debuted on a Southern California television station with a reach of 5 million homes, Hannah said. He also said Magna is focusing on other marketing efforts, mainly advertising."We recognize that this is part of a long road," Hannah said.
John Hindman, vice president of communications for TVG, said his company will launch its programming on Adelphia cable in greater Los Angeles on April 1, with the potential to reach 100,000 digital customers initially. With more than 2,000 California customers, TVG currently reaches 8 million households nationwide through the satellite Dish TV Network. TVG has also started a new Web site, and Hindman said the initial response from customers has been favorable.Advance deposit wagering handle from Jan. 25 to March 17 in California was $13.09 million, or 3.46% of the total handle in the Golden State during that period. Total handle includes money wagered on track, off track, and through account wagering services.During the period Magna Entertainment's XpressBet handled $9.25 million. TV Games Network handled $3.3 million, and Youbet.com, which started midway through the sampling period, handled $529,000.Account wagering had produced more than $600,000 for purses, $50,000 for owners and breeders, $600,000 in commissions, and $570,000 for the three hub operators, California Horse Racing Board officials said. Account wagering hasn't impacted on-track or off-track handle in California when 2002 numbers are compared with those of 2001, officials said.On March 15, Youbet.com asked the CHRB to amend its operating plan to include live-operator wagering. The company hopes to start a beta test April 1 and launch a seven-day-a-week, 16-hour-a-day service.
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