Simulcasting Off at Keeneland

The TV Games Network debuted on basic cable television in the Lexington market in late December of last year. And for the first six months of this year, handle on simulcast-only days at Keeneland is down more than $4.7 million from the comparable period last year.

Keeneland officials aren't sure why simulcast handle has fallen this year given the fact it had risen steadily for several years. To complicate matters, this year's spring meet was up 2.1% in on-track handle, and 8.5% in on-track attendance.

In early July, the Matrix Group of Lexington surveyed simulcast customers at the track to get their input. Several questions dealt with TVG, including viewing and wagering habits. Jim Williams, director of public relations at Keeneland, said the track does such surveys on various aspects of its business from time to time.

John Hindman, director of communications for TVG, said the company has a policy not to disclose handle figures other than what is released in a quarterly report on wagering hub operations in Oregon, so a comparison can't be made with figures released by Keeneland.

Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, said almost $800,000 in TVG source-market fees was returned to Kentucky from January through June. For the first three months of the year, $280,000 went to purses; for April, $121,000; for May, $231,000; and for June, $167,000.

It couldn't be determined if declines in handle at Kentucky tracks -- numbers at the Churchill Downs simulcasting facility in Louisville are down more than 10% -- have been offset by purse money generated through the Oregon hub.