With little discussion, the California Horse Racing Board unanimously approved license renewals for four advance deposit wagering companies doing business in the state for a one-year period.
The action, during a meeting Dec. 15 at Santa Anita Park, came three weeks after the state's horsemen and the four ADW providers -- XpressBet, TwinSpires.com, TVG and Youbet.com -- ended a costly impasse over revenue splits for out-of-state wagering on races conducted at Hollywood Park. The dispute blocked account wagering customers outside of California from placing bets.
The deal with horsemen is supposed to cover upcoming meets in California for the next year. The board, by allowing the ADW license renewals to expire at the end of 2009 rather than extending them through 2010, signaled that it wants to see how the agreement works out. Commissioners discussed what to do about similar problems should they arise in the future.
"I would hope that we would put in place some sort of procedure, some sort of a plan, to avoid the sort of crisis we experienced this year," said board member Jesse Choper.
Vice chairman John Harris added, "I was frustrated that we didn't have a mechanism" that would have required the two sides arbitrate the dispute.
Board members resolved to come up with, in Harris' words, "a better way" to handle ADW squabbles and other issues that require dispute mediation in the future.
The meeting, which was added to the CHRB's schedule last month, dealt with a number of rule changes that the board has been fine tuning in recent months and needed final approval to go into effect. It was also the final meeting chaired by Richard Shapiro, who surprised the 30 or so in attendance by announcing his resignation from the board.
The seven-member board unanimously supported a rule change that could add up to 45 "mini-satellites" at card clubs and restaurants, bars or other facilities that would allow wagering on horse racing.
"This is a way to disseminate our product to more people," said Shapiro, noting that the exposure for racing was more important than the handle these facilities would generate.
"I think that it's time to adopt this regulation so that we can avail ourselves of the opportunity provided by AB 241," Shapiro added in reference to a state bill that was passed in 2007.
Commissioner Jerry Moss asked that the board be provided updates every 60 days so it can judge the success of the mini-statellite plan.
The board amended a rule pertaining to the gelding of a horse that would implement a $1,000 fine to a trainer who fails to properly notify officials of the change when a horse is entered to run. According to a staff report, there were 44 such instances in California in 2007, most of them resulting in a $300 fine.
Ed Halpern, executive director of the California Thoroughbred Trainers, opposed the rule change, saying the penalty far exceeds the significance of the violation.
Moss, who chairs the CHRB's pari-mutuel committee, disagreed, saying he often hears from bettors complaining about not getting "first-time gelding" information because of its importance in handicapping a race.
The new rule will take into account "mitigating circumstances," such as mistakes in paper work by track racing offices.
The board backed an amendment to ADW rules that allows access to deposits by account holders on the same day they are made.
It also gave final approval to a rule change adding the classification of "provisional exercise rider" to existing occupational licenses. The program will help tutor new riders on race track procedures and will emphasize safety.