Racing Services Files Complaint Against Consultant

Racing Services Inc., North Dakota-based wagering company, has filed a complaint against Stevenson & Associates for alleged restraint of trade and monopolization in connection with off-track betting parlors in Mexico and Venezuela.

Racing Services has been in the news recently in North Dakota, where newspaper reports said the company is under federal investigation for, among other things, failure to pay millions of dollars in back taxes. Another article in The Forum of Fargo outlined the company's practice of offering rebates, something that remains a subject of debate in the pari-mutuel industry.

The complaint, filed in United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, details Racing Services' allegations of unfair business practices by Stevenson & Associates, a company that basically helps get signals into wagering outlets. It has among its clients racetracks and the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.

Stevenson & Associates has until mid-September to answer the complaint. Through its consultant work for the National HBPA, the company accused Racing Services, though an operation in Mexico, of "potentially unauthorized" use of TV Games Network signals. Those allegations came to light in a memo from National HBPA president John Roark to HBPA affiliates.

The National HBPA, at its summer convention in Cleveland, Ohio, said it would discuss the possibility of operating its own betting hub to reduce signal piracy and revenue leakage. After the memo was made public, Racing Services requested it be invited to the National HBPA executive committee meeting in Las Vegas in September to clarify the situation with Stevenson & Associates.

The National HBPA has made simulcasting one of its hot-button issues given beliefs horsemen are losing millions of dollars in revenue through the pirating of signals. Last year it hired Stevenson & Associates, which counts Racing and Gaming Services, an offshore betting company, as one of its clients.

In light of the apparent links between all parties, one HBPA president called for "full disclosure" before any deals are made.

Meanwhile, the racetrack at the North Dakota Horse Park in Fargo is on schedule to open Aug. 22. Under the North Dakota model, revenue from Racing Services, which operates the state's off-track betting network, was used to facilitate live racing at a new facility.