Legislators Eye Pari-Mutuel Model

Legislators will tackle the pari-mutuel revenue model when they meet in January.

The current pari-mutuel structure has captured the attention of state legislators who will discuss the situation--and whether or not they need to get involved--during the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States winter meeting Jan. 4-6, 2008.

NCLGS, which offers legislators a chance to discuss pari-mutuels and gaming, often tackles racing industry-related subjects. But never before has the pari-mutuel model been under such scrutiny. Racing companies and horsemen’s groups are forming consortiums to address pari-mutuel economics, particularly those related to account wagering and the revenue it produces.

The recent University of Arizona Symposium on Racing & Gaming featured discussion on the issue, but there was no agreement on what would be the best model for the industry at large.

State governments regulate pari-mutuel racing, while interstate simulcasts are governed by the federal Interstate Horseracing Act.

NCLGS in a release said legislators Jan. 5 during a session titled “Redefining Pari- Mutuel Simulcast: Who Wins? Who Loses?” will look at secondary pari-mutuel operations and their revenue models; the impact of joint ventures such as TrackNet Media Group on simulcast economics; proposals by horsemen’s groups to modify such models; and whether legislators need to step in.

“The session will provide vital input from interested parties, which will aid in the development of sound public gaming policy in the states,” Delaware Rep. Bill Oberle, chairman of NCLGS, said in a statement. “NCLGS legislators, invested in the horseracing culture that has developed historically in their states, want to determine what simulcast model is appropriate and would best serve their horsemen, tracks, and patrons alike.”

Among those scheduled to talk with legislators are Scott Daruty, president and chief executive officer of TrackNet Media, a joint venture of Churchill Downs Inc. and Magna Entertainment Corp.; Gary Sproule, interim CEO of Youbet.com; and Nick Coukos, secretary/treasurer of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and executive director of the HBPA of Ontario.

Other industry-related topics on the NCLGS agenda are Internet gambling; auction integrity programs, which now involve regulation of anabolic steroids in horses; proposed requirements for synthetic racing surfaces; the National Racing Compact; and controversial practices such as shock-wave therapy and heel-nerving.

The NCLGS meeting will be held at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Ariz. Committee meetings kick off the schedule for Jan. 4.