THG to Continue Work in '09--And Beyond

Organization heightened awareness on account wagering issues.

An official with the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Group said the organization intends to continue its work into 2009 and beyond, depending on the needs of its members.

The THG, launched in December 2007, spent much of 2008 representing member horsemen’s groups in negotiations for advance deposit wagering contracts. And though it wasn’t directly involved in some of the talks, the THG laid the groundwork for many ADW deals, organization president Bob Reeves said.

“Looking back at where we were at this time last year, without a doubt the THG increased the awareness among its members about how account wagering works,” Reeves said in late December. “This time last year, most horsemen really didn’t understand account wagering; people understood host fees but not things like source-market fees.

“We wanted to increase the contribution from account wagering companies to support live racing, and no question we have helped raise the bar. We’ve also created a new awareness of the importance of broad distribution (of signals on ADW platforms).”

Though conflict over ADW contracts lingered for much of 2008, there was a flurry of activity in December that resulted in several major agreements, including one between Churchill Downs and Kentucky horsemen. Though 2009 started on a relatively peaceful note, Reeves said the 20-member THG is prepared tackle other issues.

“We’re member-driven, so our members will dictate what we work on,” Reeves said. “We’re not just talking about the United States market; we’re talking about a world market (for pari-mutuel wagering).  We need to help our members respond to the changes in the industry, and there is no limit to the challenges.”

Reeves said double-digit declines in the gaming business in Las Vegas, which historically has been insulated from economic woes, is evidence the current economic crisis is different—and one that could impact horse racing for some time.

“There’s no question the economy is in terrible shape, and people’s discretionary income is under attack,” Reeves said. “I think 2009 is going to be just a tough year for the wagering business in general.”