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Philly Park Faces TrackNet Deadline

Philadelphia Park has been asked to cease handling account wagers on TrackNet content

Philadelphia Park has been asked to cease handling account wagers on racing affiliated with TrackNet Media Group unless the Pennsylvania track signs a new licensing agreement with the content group.

TrackNet, which is a joint venture of Churchill Downs Inc. and Magna Entertainment Corp., has given Philadelphia Park until March 14 to come to terms on a new licensing agreement, or face unspecified repercussions.

Scott Daruty, the president of TrackNet, said Philadelphia Park for months has been operating outside the terms of its current simulcast agreement, which prohibits offering account wagering on TrackNet content through its Phonebet system.

“The simulcast agreement that is in place with Philadelphia Park expressly prohibits account wagering,” Daruty said. “Philly Park has continued to conduct account wagering, and we have allowed them to do so while we have been negotiating.”

Daruty said Philadelphia Park is being asked to sign a separate licensing agreement for account wagering, which includes a “modest upcharge” over the current simulcast terms TrackNet allows for “brick-and-mortar” wagering at the track located in Bensalem, and affiliated off-track betting parlors.

“If we can’t get them to agree, we are going to insist they no longer conduct account wagering on TrackNet content,” he said. Current racing offered under the TrackNet umbrella includes Gulfstream Park, Fair Grounds, Laurel Park, Oaklawn Park, and Santa Anita Park.

Requests for comment from Philadelphia Park were referred to general manager Joe Wilson, who did not return a call from The Blood-Horse. The Philadelphia Park Phonebet system, which handles wagers through telephone and Internet platforms, is one of the nation’s oldest account wagering entities.

Daruty declined to detail what specific actions TrackNet might take against Philadelphia Park if the track fails to come to terms, but the content group in the past has cut off signals to entities, such as during contentious negotiations with Nevada casino racebooks earlier this year.

“They will be in breach of our simulcast agreement,” Daruty said of the March 14 deadline. “At that time, we would have to look at all of our options.”

In 2007, Phonebet handled $115,320,929 in wagers, or 27% of Philadelphia Park's total handle, according to the Pennsylvania Horse Racing Commissions’ annual report for that year (the 2008 annual report has not been released). Philadelphia Park is owned by Greenwood Racing Inc.