BC Yet to Iron Out Account-Wagering Wrinkle

Last year, the day before the Breeders' Cup races were run at Churchill Downs, officials from the organization and the TV Games Network traveled to Ohio to strike a deal allowing Winticket.com, Beulah Park's account-wagering subsidiary, to accept wagers on the eight races. Eleven months later, with the Oct. 27 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park soon approaching, no agreement is in place to cover the same situation this year.

For the second straight year, Breeders' Cup has an exclusivity contract with TVG that covers online wagering and interactive voice-response wagering. This year, the agreement also covers the interactive wagering company Youbet.com, because TVG and Youbet signed a strategic partnership earlier this year.

Interactive voice recognition wagering (IVR) refers to telephone account wagering systems that allow touch-tone wagering. A system that uses "live operators" will be able to accept wagers. Many offer both live operators and IVR.

"We're working on that right now, to try and reach an accommodation between Breeders' Cup, TVG, and those telephone account-wagering systems that utilize IVR." Breeders' Cup simulcast consultant Ken Kirchner said.

Last year, Breeders' Cup ended up selling licenses that allowed systems with automatic telephone tellers to accept Cup wagers. Licenses were not offered to companies that accept online wagers.

In 2000, TVG was only available in four states -- Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, and Oregon. It handled $359,296 on the eight Breeders' Cup races.

This year, TVG is available in Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Wyoming. Youbet is available in all states except Alaska, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Utah, as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

"With Youbet online this year, we should see a significant increase in online handle," Kirchner said.

The Breeders' Cup races were simulcast to 1,071 sites in the United States and Canada in 2000, as well as about 20 foreign countries. France, Switzerland, and Monaco wagered $1.6 million into the common pool, while all other foreign countries had separate pools.

Kirchner said discussions are ongoing with two countries, Ireland and South Africa, which would wager into the common pool. The largest international wagering site is Canada, which last year bet more than $4 million.

For the second consecutive year, last year's total handle, including simulcasting, topped $100 million.