TVG, Horsemen Work on Purse Protection

As the California horse racing industry awaited action by Gov. Gray Davis on account wagering legislation, the TV Games Network and Thoroughbred Owners of California announced they had reached an agreement in principle to protect purses should live handle be negatively impacted by account betting.

During a meeting Aug. 4 at Del Mar, TVG chief executive officer Mark Wilson said he told horsemen the company would "work on a rational formula" should account wagering "cause purses to deteriorate." Wilson said that scenario is unlikely.

The issue came to head in late July when Thoroughbred owner Marty Wygod publicly expressed concern that account wagering may not achieve its intended goal: increased purses.

TOC president John Van de Kamp called the horsemen's meeting "very positive," and said there now is "unified support" within the horse racing industry for the legislation. "The whole idea is to expand the pot, if you will, for everybody," he said.

Van de Kamp said account wagering is expected to provide a bit more revenue for purses than in-state simulcast handle does, and less than live-race handle produces.

The legislation, which also calls for unionization of backstretch workers, is on Davis' desk. Van de Kamp said he hadn't received word of when the governor may act on the bill, though Davis returned from vacation this week.

Wilson said TVG has contracts with and would serve as the telephone wagering hub for Del Mar, Fairplex Park, Hollywood Park, Los Alamitos, and Oak Tree at Santa Anita Park. Magna Entertainment will make its own arrangements for the regular meet at Santa Anita, the Arcadia track it owns and operates.