The Portland Meadows racing meet, which looked for a time like it might be canceled, is scheduled to kick off Oct. 5, despite ongoing issues in Oregon.
The track, which is operated by Magna Entertainment Corp., recently announced the 64-day meet will go forward after receiving application approval from the Oregon Racing Commission Sept. 18.
Portland Meadows in July closed its backstretch and suspended purse contract negotiations with horsemen from fallout of a dispute with TVG over source-market fees. Both horsemen and the track, which is owned 22% by MEC, claim TVG without warning reduced its source-market fees by about 8%.
The source-market agreement, which is required by law to be in place for an advance deposit wagering entity such as TVG to operate a hub in the state, is still unresolved, said Dick Cartney, executive director of the Oregon Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
Source-market fees typically involve revenue percentages paid by ADWs on wagers made through their platforms by a defined set of bettors -- in this case, by any Oregon resident. There are nine ADWs operating in the state’s hub system, including the four largest in the United States -- TVG, Youbet.com, Twinspires.com, and XpressBet.com.
“(ADWs) are required to have a source-market plan, or mitigation plan of some sort, and they all do except for TVG,” Cartney said. “TVG claims they have a plan. The only problem is that it’s verbal and not in writing. We are still pretty far apart.”
TVG did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Officials have previously said the company is always evaluating and reacting to market conditions, though they have not confirmed the source-market fee reduction.
It is alleged that TVG reduced its source-market fees after receiving approval from the racing commission for its annual hub license in May. TVG paid $653,403 in source-market fees in 2007, according to commission minutes. The fees are split 50-50 between horsemen and Portland Meadows.
Cartney said Portland Meadows reopened its backstretch around Aug. 1, and training resumed about a week later. He said the Oregon HBPA recently signed on with the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Group, and will utilize the THG to negotiate its signal consents for the Portland Meadows meet. Portland Meadows is part of the TrackNet Media Group content partnership of MEC and Churchill Downs Inc.
Track general manager Will Alempijevic said differences on certain matters have been worked out with horsemen, and Portland Meadows is excited about the upcoming meet. "We are hopeful this will be a successful meet,” Alempijevic said.
Alempijevic said he is also hopeful an Oregon appeals court will allow the installment of Instant Racing machines at Portland Meadows. Instant Racing, which features previously-run races on a slots-like terminal, was originally approved by the commission in 2003, but then blocked for the second time this past April.