NTRA: Longer TV Rights Deal, New Sponsor

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association will seek three-year television rights agreements with member racetracks to assist in national coverage of horse racing, the organization said Sept. 27. It also struck a sponsorship deal with Guinness beer.

The action was taken during a board of directors meeting at Arlington Park in Illinois just days before the NTRA's annual membership meeting in Las Vegas.

The NTRA already has one-year rights agreements with member tracks. NTRA commissioner Tim Smith said the extensions are tied to the nature of of the NTRA's television programming.

"Now that we're going out (more years) with networks and sponsors, we need the rights to be assigned on a multi-year basis," Smith said.

The board also approved an agreement in principle with Guinness for media and sponsorship. The deal, as well as information on cooperative advertising and marketing, will be discussed during the NTRA Marketing Summit to be held Sept. 30-Oct. 1 in conjunction with the annual meeting.

"It's a major sponsorship for us," Smith said of the Guinness deal. "Guinness will become the official imported beer of the NTRA."

Guinness will buy advertising on NTRA programming, among other things.

The board also received head a detailed overview of legislative activities related to the elimination of the 30% withholding tax on winning wagers by foreign bettors, as well as staff activity on issues relating to credit-card usage for Internet-based wagering;

A long-term planning meeting for 2004-2008 programs has been scheduled for February 2003.