Double-Digit Gains Galore at Tampa Bay Downs

Tampa Bay Downs continues to make sizable gains in terms of its live signal and on-track attendance, but on-track simulcast revenues are down because of a conflict involving Magna Entertainment Corp. and the New York Racing Association.

For the first 31 days of its 93-day meet, total daily average handle on live racing is up 26.3% to $2.8 million. On-track wagering on live racing is up 23.7% to $262,000 a day. Daily average attendance has jumped 15.9% to 3,190.

Tampa Bay released the figures Jan. 27. On track and off track, daily average handle is up about $600,000 on the live product. Management attributes the handle increases to three primary factors.

"We've started a new policy this year of not contracting with certain off-track betting sites," track vice president and general manager Peter Berube said in a prepared statement. "We believe this policy will level the playing field by prohibiting access to our pools from these sites that cater to computer/arbitrage players."

Berube also cited the track's large fields--an average of 10 starters per race, up from 9.1 last season--and increased national exposure as the two other reasons for the increases. "Tampa Bay Downs' signal is now broadcast to every major market outside of California every day," he said.

Berube said the gains have been offset by an impasse between Tampa Bay Downs and NYRA and MEC over the import and redistribution of signals in the state of Florida. It has resulted in signals such as Aqueduct and Santa Anita Park not being shown at Tampa Bay.

NYRA opted to have Gulfstream serve as its signal distributor in Florida because it made more economic sense, NYRA senior vice president Bill Nader said in an earlier report. Berube said having to go through MEC to get the signal would cost Tampa Bay about two-thirds of its revenue. In a release, the track said the rate it would have to pay is about 370% more than last year's fee.