Seven new organizations representing owners and trainers in states including Kentucky, Florida, and Maryland have joined the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Group, with a mutual goal of reforming the industry’s wagering revenue distribution system in order to sustain live racing in North America.
THG also has gained an endorsement from the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association in its efforts to promote simulcasting through all account wagering companies and other outlets offering a fair contribution of revenue to horsemen and racetracks.
“The Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association is in complete support of the goals of the THG to require fair pricing for advance deposit wagering companies,” said TOBA chairman Bill Casner after a recent meeting between THG leaders and the TOBA board of trustees. “The shift in wagering from on track to ADW has created the phenomena of ‘handle up, purses down.’ It is only reasonable to ask ADW companies that have no investment in bricks and mortar or horseflesh to pay their fair share to purses.
“Racetrack companies that own ADWs are obviously conflicted by the current pricing model,” continued Casner, who is also co-owner of WinStar Farm. “Racetrack ADWs can retain more revenue from an account wager and pay less to purse accounts than when the same bet is made at their track. This loophole must be closed. A more equitable pricing model will help to ensure the future of our industry.”
The Kentucky Thoroughbred Association — one of the new members of the THG, which now encompasses 18 horsemen’s organizations in 16 jurisdictions that have contracts with 52 racetracks around North America — also has taken a firm stand on the need for fair distribution of account wagering revenue.
“For too many years the industry has said the account wagering model is broken and needs to be fixed,” said KTA executive director David Switzer. “Until now, no one has come up with the fix. The THG program will move this issue forward and provide a fair and equitable sharing of revenue for all parties.”
Other organizations that have joined the THG since the end of last year are the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the Tampa Bay Downs Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, the Mountaineer Park HBPA, the Oklahoma HBPA, the Minnesota HBPA, and the Indiana HBPA.
Members that joined previously are the Thoroughbred Owners of California; the Florida HBPA, representing horsemen at Gulfstream Park and Calder Race Course; the Kentucky HBPA; the Texas Horsemen’s Partnership; the Louisiana HBPA; the Pennsylvania HBPA; the Ohio HBPA; the Delaware Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association; the Arkansas HBPA; the Virginia HPBA, and the HBPA of Ontario, Canada.
The Texas Horsemen’s Partnership and the Florida HBPA have called on THG to conduct ongoing negotiations with account wagering companies on their behalf.
THG president Bob Reeves claims the future prosperity of horse racing is at stake in the discussions about account wagering, which is the only growth sector in betting on horse races. Yet account wagering currently provides far less revenue — up to 80% less revenue per wagering dollar — to support purses and live racing than do on-track or inter-track wagering.
“We embrace the technological advancement brought to our industry by account wagering companies providing a wagering opportunity to a larger segment of the population,” Reeves said. “But as distribution channels change for wagering on Thoroughbred horse races, we also must be certain that a fair contribution is made to Thoroughbred racetracks and purses if we want to assure the long-term viability of our industry.”
Horsemen’s groups formed THG in 2007 to improve the competitive position of Thoroughbred racing and to develop more efficient systems through which interstate simulcasting activities are administered. Among THG’s initial efforts is the implementation of a standardized horsemen’s simulcast licensing agreement under which all multi-jurisdictional account wagering companies may secure the simulcast authorizations of participating THG member organizations.
The THG licensing agreement is designed to ensure that the rapidly-evolving account wagering business adequately supports live racing interests while enabling host tracks and account wagering companies to negotiate competitive pricing rates for individual racetracks.