TrackNet, MidAtlantic Reach Agreement

The dispute between the groups had prevented bettors from wagering at certain tracks

TrackNet Media Group and the MidAtlantic Cooperative announced Jan. 22 they have reached an agreement that will allow MidAtlantic member racetracks and their betting outlets to immediately receive simulcast signals of several racetracks affiliated with TrackNet.

The agreement ends a dispute and signal blackout that began last November.

Signals of Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita Park, Golden Gate Fields, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park, and Laurel Park were among those that were not available this month at the 17 MidAtlantic tracks or at their off-track betting outlets and account wagering platforms.

After the agreement was announced, MidAtlantic tracks and outlets started taking those signals during the afternoon of Jan. 22., said Martin Lieberman, MidAtlantic‘s executive director.

Monmouth Park, Meadowlands, Philadelphia Park Casino & Racetrack, Delaware Park, Colonial Downs, and their off-track betting outlets were among those affected by the dispute.

The agreement is for one year with a one-year renewal option that is solely at the discretion of MidAtlantic.

Scott Daruty, TrackNet’s chief executive officer, and Lieberman would not disclose the percentage of takeouts that either party is receiving on the again-available simulcast signals.

“Both parties agreed there is nothing to be gained by releasing that information,” Lieberman said.

Having the one-year renewal option “is important because it shows there will be some continuity,” he added. “This situation has caused disruptions for fans, horsemen, and the tracks. We are pleased that it is settled, especially for the fans.”

Lieberman would not disclose the revenues MidAtlantic members estimate they have lost.

The blackout also reduced the projected Interstate Wagering (ISW) for Gulfstream and other tracks whose signals were blacked out.

“We are pleased that a settlement has been reached, pleased not only for ourselves and our horsemen but also for racing fans across the nation who can once again have an opportunity to watch the best racing product in the country.” said Ken Dunn, Gulfstream’s president and general manager.

Gulfstream, located in Hallandale Beach, Fla., began its meet Jan. 3. Through Jan. 21, its first 14 race days, Gulfstream’s ISW wagering was down 15.6% from the same period in 2009, Dunn said.

“MidAtlantic generally accounts for around 14% of Gulfstream Park’s ISW handle,“ he said. “So despite bad weather for the early part of the meet, the impasse appears to account for the majority of the decline in ISW wagering.

TrackNet is a joint venture of Churchill Downs Inc. and Magna Entertainment Corp. It operates as a facilitator for simulcasting and wagering, charging tracks a fee to disseminate their races to other locations.

The MidAtlantic Cooperative is made up of 17 Thoroughbred and harness tracks and their betting outlets in nine states. Negotiations had been ongoing since last August.

There were reports that the MidAtlantic Cooperative was maintaining that TrackNet was proposing unprecedented rate increases that were inconsistent with those charged by similar advance deposit wagering providers. But on Jan. 22, Daruty and Lieberman said negotiations were not bitter.

“I would like to compliment TrackNet for keeping the negotiations on a high level,” Lieberman said.

“These were challenging negotiations, but I feel that Marty handled everything forwardly and honestly,” Daruty said.

He added: “We recognize the inconvenience that this caused for fans, and we apologize. But people must realize that we have a financial responsibility for the financial health of the racetracks whose signals we distribute. It is important that they be paid a fair compensation for their signals.”